Attorney General Tom Horne's efforts to replace the police force in Colorado City with deputies from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office was killed in the state House yesterday, which turned out to be the last day of the legislative session.
Colorado City, for those joining late, is the city on the Utah/Arizona border that child rapist Warren Jeffs used to call home, and remains the home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Horne pushed the bill to legislators, contending that the cops there -- often referred to as the "Marshalls" -- were way too sympathetic to polygamists and friends of Jeffs.
"Numerous cases have been documented where the 'Marshalls' refuse to investigate serious crimes against the property and persons of 'apostates' or other non followers of Warren Jeffs, when the perpetrators were followers of Mr. Jeffs," the AG's office said in February. "The 'Marshalls' have also prevented enforcement of court orders with respect who can occupy land. When a court appointed official came to Colorado City to enforce court orders, the Chief of Police pulled him over and threatened to arrest him for criminal trespass if he attempted to enforce court orders, as opposed to the desires of the FLDS Church."
The House had previously killed the bill to replace the cops in Colorado City, but it was tacked on to another bill as an amendment in a last-ditch effort to get it passed.
House members didn't accept that either, saying the language wasn't germane to the actual bill.
Horne hasn't been happy about the cops in Colorado City, as he insists they're playing to the wishes of Jeffs and his religious teachings, not state laws.
"Young women trapped in polygamist arrangements with much older men, who had escaped from Colorado City, have stated that other women trying to escape were caught by the local police...and forcefully returned to their husbands," the AG's office said in its explanation of Horne's desire to get rid of those cops. "In one case, the husband threatened 'blood atonement' if the woman tried again escape, which involves execution by a method too horrible to describe here."
Jeffs is still in prison for raping kids -- where he's still acting like a lunatic -- but the FLDS is still practically running Colorado City.
Horne said this bill, among 17 he suggested to the Legislature, was his "highest priority in terms of the safety and well being of Arizona citizens."
The bill as proposed didn't explicitly remove Colorado City's police force; it was a little craftier than that. Here's the explanation from the AG's office:
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The law provides that a local police agency can be decertified if more than half of its individual police officers had their licenses taken away in the previous 8 years. This would include Colorado City, and may apply in other cases as well. However, decertification of the law enforcement agency would not occur unless the Attorney General determined that the problem was systemic, and the County Board of Supervisors would have to vote to have the Sheriff takeover local law enforcement duties. Mohave County officials have indicated their willingness to do that in this case. The Sheriff's office would be paid by the city for law enforcement duties.
Horne told the Arizona Republic he's going to try again next year.
Also read: Former New Times writer John Dougherty's saga on the polygamist communities in Arizona.