Photo courtesy of Maricopa County SO.

Photo courtesy of Maricopa County SO.

Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio has issued AR-15s to each of his deputies and ordered them to carry the patrol rifles whether they are on or off duty.

Earlier this week, Arpaio's office received 400 Smith & Wesson AR-15s that have been paid for with asset-forfeiture seizures.

"The monies that allowed us to make this significant weapon buy come from our RICO fund," Arpaio said in a press release. "That is money seized in drug raids and human smuggling operations. As a result, taxpayers are not footing the bill."

Deputies must have access to the rifle 24 hours a day, Sheriff Arpaio said. The deputies have already undergone qualification training with the weapons. The initiative follows increasing violence against the agency's deputies since 2012.

"Last year, two of our deputies died under violent circumstances, and this year a deputy was shot several times but survived," Arpaio said. "Therefore, I want all my deputies to be armed with the greatest firepower available 24 hours a day."