Officials in Texas filed suit to seize the compound where the followers of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs live. KTVK investigative reporter Michael Watkiss has been covering the polygamous sect for years. He reports from the Utah-Arizona border.
The polygamous community in Colorado City, Arizona is controlled in almost every way by the FLDS church. Even the local police put the interests of their imprisoned leader, Warren Jeffs, above the law.
Citizens outside of the religious group say they're victims of intimidation and cruel vandalism, which includes the torture of helpless animals. The police have done nothing to help.
A recent effort by Arizona legislators to shut down the police department was not successful. The state's Attorney General took action and is using about half a million dollars to provide patrols in the area. The new county sheriffs are trying to enforce the law and make change in a town resistant to outsiders.
There's a new sheriff in town in the largest polygamous community in America. For years, the local police in Colorado City, Arizona have been accused of not giving protection to anyone who wasn't a follower of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs and his Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church.
Now the Arizona attorney general has stepped in and given half-a-million dollars to pay for county sheriff patrols in town. That's after the state legislature tried to disband the police force and didn't succeed.
There are several people in town who say the police force has failed them and they welcome the new patrols.
People like Issac Wyler, who left the church eight years ago and says he's the victim of gruesome vandals.
"They kill cats and throw them in the back of my truck, or I will find them in my porch a lot of times," Wyler told CNN's Gary Tuchman.
Critics say police in Colorado City, Arizona, ignore laws and remain loyal to jailed polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs.
The Arizona Senate passed legislation that would abolish the police department there and end corruption, but it failed to pass in the House. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
Arizona lawmakers voted against a bill that would abolish the corrupt police force in Colorado City. The legislation passed in the Arizona Senate, but failed in the House leaving many questioning why elected representatives are protecting the officers.
The police department consists of FLDS members loyal to their imprisoned polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs. Observers say they value the word of their leader over the law of the land.
CNN's Gary Tuchman and KTVK's Michael Watkiss have been reporting on the FLDS community for years. Tuchman doubts the Congress made an educated decision on the bill. He told Anderson Cooper, "There does not appear to have been a strenuous investigation." Based on his extensive travels as a journalist, he said, "This is the most abnormal place I've ever been to in the United States."
Watkiss believes the Arizona leaders are morally and intellectually bankrupt when it comes to this issue. He said Arizona is choosing to ignore "the most corrupt police agency in America." Watkiss also pointed out the limited rights of women and children in the FLDS community, made worse by the lawless police department.
As you drive into Colorado City, Arizona you can't help but feel blown away by the picturesque scenery. The mountain range is so beautiful; it's a shame that very few people have seen the area that is only a few hours from Las Vegas. It's no secret that visitors aren't welcome here.
Gary Tuchman and I have been coming to the FLDS town for several years to report on their leader and convicted child rapist Warren Jeffs. We’ve done stories on the way he runs the polygamous sect in the area also known as Short Creek. Journalists who have worked out there know there are challenges to covering stories in the area. The minute anyone from the media arrives, text messages are sent around the community alerting everyone not to talk with them.
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