Sheriff's office investigating Colorado City police activities

Mohave Daily News/September 5, 2010

Kingman - The Mohave County Sheriff's Office is investigating numerous complaints against the Colorado City police officers. Colorado City, along with Hildale, Utah, is the home of the polygamist sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church. The incorporated city employs about a half dozen police officers. Sheriff Tom Sheahan said his office has investigated 20 to 25 complaints against Colorado City's town marshals in the past year. The complaints range from trespassing, criminal damage, harassment and the death of domestic animals in recent months. The complaints include city marshals causing the release of animals from fenced areas and plowing under of crops owned by non-FLDS residents who have lived in the area for years, Sheahan said. The sheriff also said the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice has been to Colorado City in the past two weeks and is working with MCSO in investigating the complaints. Sheahan said he has seen an increase in defiance and incidents by Colorado City officials in the past year. He has also seen an increase in traffic back and forth between Colorado City and an FLDS compound in Texas. The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) board has decertified five Colorado City town marshals since 2005 and eight marshals since 1990. The sheriff's office has worked with the AZPOST board in investigating the city's police officers in actions including malfeasance, being uncooperative with other law enforcement and practicing multi-marriages, Sheahan said. Flora Jessop, a former resident of Colorado City and currently an advocate for the victims of child abuse and forced marriages in the polygamist community, said she would like to see the Colorado City charter revoked and its government turned back to the county, including its law enforcement. Jessop also said non-FLDS residents in Colorado City and Hildale feel like they are living in another country. The county recently bought a 5-acre lot at the corner of Cane Beds Road and Highway 389 near Colorado City and is expected to move into the building later this month. The building is complete with the parking lot being paved. The building would house the sheriff's office, the county attorney's office, victim's advocate group and other county offices. The county also recently approved putting a new Moccasin Justice Court in the Colorado City area. Sheahan said he has five deputies patrolling the Arizona Strip, including Colorado City. The deputies and Mohave County Attorney's Office Investigator Gary Engels, who has been investigating alleged abuses by FLDS members in Colorado City for more than five years, will be based in the county building. The county was forced to abandon the modular building on Mohave Community College property in Colorado City after MCC ended a five-year lease in early 2009. Mohave County law enforcement officers raided the fire stations April 6 in Colorado City and in Hildale as well as the homes of Colorado City Fire Chief Jake Barlow and Colorado City Manager David Darger. The investigation, which is still ongoing, looked into the alleged misuse of the fire department's credit cards for personal use in connection with the fire departments and the city government. In recent years, the county attorney's office has investigated charges of child abuse and sexual misconduct by nine church members, including the church's leader, Warren Jeffs, who had been charged with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor in two 2007 Arizona cases. Those charges were recently dismissed. Jeffs was convicted in Utah for rape and was serving a 10-year prison term when his conviction was overturned in July by the Utah Supreme Court and remanded for a new trial. He also faces charges in Texas.

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