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Mohave County sheriff ready to respond to potential problems in Colorado City

Hilldale, Utah sits on the Arizona-Utah border across from Colorado City, Ariz.(AP Photo)

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wants the Arizona Legislature to pass a law that makes the Mohave County Sheriff's Office the only law enforcement in Colorado City.

But how would such a law be received in the polygamist town? Would the Marshal's Office that polices the town go along with the order, or would there be a confrontation between two armed law enforcement agencies?

Horne said he is conducting a criminal probe of the office. He claims marshals are holding "women who want to escape from the community" against their will.

Blake Hamilton is the attorney for the Hilldale, Utah, marshal's office, which is a joint operation with Colorado City. He denied the charges, and is challenging Horne to show any evidence that backed up the claims.

The community along the Arizona-Utah border is heavily influenced by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That church is ruled by Warren Jeffs, who is in a Texas prison after being convicted on child sex and bigamy charges.

Hamilton admitted if the Legislature rules in Horne's favor, it would not go over well in Colorado City. He said the marshals obviously doesn't want to be decertified and disbanded.

"It's these gentlemen's job to uphold the law and protect people there," said Hamilton. "They have done that, and they have been carrying out their duties."

Not so, said Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheehan.

"They know what's going in that community," said Sheehan. "They know how (the polygamists) ship women from town to town and from state to state. They do nothing to stop it."

Sheehan cited one incident when his deputies tried to take a man into custody, and the marshals stood in their way. When sheriff's deputies arrived to pick the man up, marshals said he wasn't there.

"This individual that we were looking for works at the city complex," said Sheehan. "His car was there. He's also a volunteer fireman. They can play dumb all they want to. We know. We've been playing their games for years, and those games are about to end when the legislature takes action."

Hamilton denied there have been any confrontations between his clients and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

"It's really reckless behavior by Tom Sheehan to say the things that he has said, without providing any evidence of those conflicts that he calls," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said if the legislature rules in Horne's favor, he'll advise his clients to abide by that ruling, and he thinks the marshals will cooperate.

But he calls the people who live in Colorado City "close knit," and he's not sure how they'll react.

Sheehan said he's not worried about a possible siege, but said if something does happen, his deputies will be ready.

"You have to be ready for anything," said Sheehan. "We've had false rumors of mass suicide, and Warren Jeffs saying that they're going to be lifted up to heaven."

"We're used to a lot of various issues that come out of that community, that's for sure."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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