KINGMAN - A simple request to find a new home for Mohave County, state and federal offices in the Colorado City area during Monday's Board of Supervisors meeting quickly turned into a he said/he said battle between two residents from Colorado City and the Mohave County Sheriff.
During the meeting, District III Supervisor Buster Johnson asked that the Board direct county staff to start looking for a new home for county, state and federal offices that were housed inside a mobile trailer on property leased from Mohave Community College. The college decided not to renew the lease with the county earlier this month and the offices must be moved off the property.
The topic provided an opening for Colorado City Town Manager David Darger and he took advantage of it, starting with questions about why the Mohave County Sheriff's Office was targeting Colorado City citizens and the town's police department.
Darger objected to comments made by Sheriff Tom Sheahan during the March 2 Board of Supervisors' meeting which, Darger said, alleged that the officers of the Colorado City Police Department were unfit for duty and the sheriff was attempting to decertify all the officers in the department.
"This wholesale attack on the city police department is far outside the bounds of propriety," Darger said.
He also asked about the "strong message" Sheahan said he wanted to send to the community on March 2.
Did that include MCSO deputies arresting two farmers for plowing land last week that was involved in an ownership dispute, Darger asked, or other deputies who were "targeting" drivers entering or leaving the MCC campus.
"Yes, this is a message. Is it a message of retaliation? I don't know. Is this a waste of taxpayers' dollars or a personal vendetta? I don't know," Darger said. "There's always room for improvement. We've always tried to work with neighboring agencies, such as the county sheriff, but how can we if he refuses?"
The town has filed a complaint with the Arizona Governor's and Attorney General's offices about the activities of the MCSO, he said.
The MCSO did confirm that more officers were in the Colorado City area last week for training purposes and investigating crimes. The department regularly rotates deputies throughout the county in order to familiarize them with the different areas, said MCSO Public Information Officer Trish Carter.
"We have a duty to provide services to our citizens," she said. "We would rather not waste both of our agencies' time and resources. We would like to see our resources used to the best benefit of Colorado City and Mohave County."
"What we're dealing with in Texas has got the same attributes as to what's happening here," said property owner William Jessop. He alleged that officers in both states were abusing their power in order to harass the residents of both communities and waste taxpayer's money.
"This multipurpose facility (the county, state and federal offices) was brought in not for the service of the people. It was brought in on a vendetta," he said. "We need law enforcement in the area. We need the services in the area, but we need it done with an element to help."
"Over the last couple of years we've seen the walls go up. They call it a closed society. Who made it a closed society?" he said. "Texas wants to know why it's a closed society. It's because law enforcement abuses their power.
"This Board needs to be on formal notice of expenditures that are going to be facing you if his (Sheahan's) conduct is not changed."
Jessop showed a number of pictures of MCSO cruisers parked along the sides of residential streets, cruisers with vehicles pulled over in front of the MCC campus sign, cruisers parked in a field with a tractor and deputies speaking with people in the field and cruisers parked near road intersections waiting for speeders.
"This was the retaliation the state put out. This was what the community was faced with all week," he said. "You are going to see a great need for more law enforcement because of his determination to take out the local law enforcement. Hold these people accountable. Let's check the credibility and let's not paint the community with a wide brush."
"Y'all need to be aware. It's coming at you," Jessop said. "We have put the feds on notice. We've put the governors on notice. We cannot afford another YFZ (Yearning for Zion Ranch, the ranch raided in Texas) in Colorado City. We welcome law enforcement. We do not welcome vindictive hatred toward people. We need these people to be treated as citizens."
"I find it interesting that Mr. Jessop is making threats against Mohave County and myself," Sheahan said. "I will continue to do the job I was elected as sheriff to do. I will enforce the laws in incorporated as well as unincorporated areas as well as we do in Kingman, Lake Havasu and Bullhead City."
"If Mr. Jessop thinks these threats are going to deter my actions to bring honest law enforcement to that community, he's foolishly mistaken."