PHOENIX (Wednesday, February 08, 2012) -- A bill which would have the effect of replacing law enforcement in Colorado City with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office this morning passed the Senate Government Reform Committee unanimously.
Attorney General Tom Horne testified that, of 17 bills he has suggested to the legislature, this one has the highest priority in terms of the safety and well being of Arizona citizens.
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 (referred to as “Marshalls”) and forcefully returned to their husbands. 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.
Attorney General Horne has organized a task force of federal, state, and county law enforcement officers, to deal with the Colorado City problem. They all agree that the first priority for dealing with that problem is replacement of local law enforcement, because existing law enforcement has expressly committed itself to following the dictates of Warren Jeffs, rather than enforcing the laws of the state, as they are sworn to do.
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 “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.
AG Horne, in his testimony cited other examples of local police following the desires of Mr. Jeffs, rather than their sworn duty to follow the law.
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.
A copy of the bill is attached.
Link to the bill: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/2r/bills/sb1433p.pdf
Link to the amendment: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/2r/proposed/s.1433244.pdf
Link to the agenda the bill was heard in this morning: http://www.azleg.gov/agendas/02080161107.pdf