Mohave County sheriff ready to respond to potential problems in Colorado City
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."
Bob McClay, Reporter