Law officers to keep eye on polygamists

An unassuming doublewide trailer is bringing a state presence to the polygamous town of Colorado City.

Associated Press/November 29, 2004

The trailer is set to house a long-delayed, multiuse facility that will provide space for the Arizona Attorney General's Office, Child Protective Services, the Mohave County sheriff, Mohave County Victim Witness Program and the county attorney.

The offices are the first semipermanent, independent governmental presence in this remote area since National Guard troops and state police staged a highly criticized raid to rout polygamy 51 years ago.

"The intent of the facility is really to bring the state and the county into Colorado City," said Richard Travis, special assistant attorney general, who visited the new offices this week.

Polygamy is practiced openly in Colorado City.

The remote enclave is on the state line with Utah and is dominated by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religious sect that split from mainstream Mormonism after the broader church renounced polygamy.

Critics claim the church uses polygamy to justify a wide range of evils, from child rape and underage marriage to bilking public payrolls. The isolation of Colorado City only helps perpetuate those suspicions.

That's why some believe the new facility could be significant.

"There is a way and a means to create change if there is a desire," said Mohave County Supervisor Pete Byers, whose district includes Colorado City, a five-hour drive from his office in Kingman.

"If you constantly pay lip service and never move forward, nothing is going to change. At least now we are moving forward."

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