A bill that would replace local police in Colorado City with deputies from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office was unanimously approved by a state Senate committee this morning.
Colorado City, for anyone who doesn't know, is a haven for members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that straddles the Arizona/Utah border and was once headed by infamous child-raping polygamist Warren Jeffs.
Even with Jeffs locked away in a Texas prison, the FLDS still controls the city -- and apparently its police force, too.
Attorney general Tom Horne is pushing the bill hard, testifying in front of the Senate Government Reform Committee that of the 17 bills he's suggested to the Legislature, getting rid of the "marshals" in Colorado City is the "highest priority" in terms of public safety.
The problem with Colorado City's police force is that it apparently subscribes to Jeffs' practices of polygamy and raping children.
According to Horne, young women who have escaped from polygamist relationships in Colorado City say that other women who were caught trying to escape are forcefully brought back to their much older husbands. In one case, Horne says, a woman was threatened with "blood atonement" (execution) if she tried to escape again.
One woman who escaped the clutches of an FLDS polygamist community is Flora Jessop, who was raised in a polygamist "cult" in Utah. She escaped, though, only to be sent back to the polygamists' compound by the government agency she turned to for help: the Utah Department of Child and Family Services.
After escaping a second time, Jessop moved to Phoenix, where she's mounted a campaign to help children escape the abuse that occurs in polygamist communities.
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We wrote about Jessop last year -- read her bio here.
Horne has assembled a task force made up of federal, state, and county law enforcement officials to deal with the "Colorado City problem." They all agree, he says, that the first step in solving the "problem" is replacing the police force with law enforcement officials who aren't loyal to Jeffs.
"Numerous cases have been documented where the 'Marshals' 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 says. "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."