Even after Maricopa incorporated in 2003, its law and order mostly came from the county sheriff and justice of the peace. In the late 1950s, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office constructed a substation and jail in Maricopa. The city contracted with PCSO for law enforcement after incorporation until it established a police department.
The substation property was then no longer used by PCSO but continued to be owned by the county. In 2012, the building was leased to F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, which remodeled it for a very different use, though the jail cells and outdoor enclosure remained, so the building’s history was quite evident.
Now the building is marked for demolition to clear a path for the State Route 347 overpass across the Union Pacific tracks.
Before the sheriff’s office had personnel in town, the primary law enforcement was a series of justices of the peace, according to local historian Pat Brock. Before the judges, the main turn-of-the-century lawman in Maricopa was actually a Southern Pacific railroad detective named John “Maricopa Slim” Powers, who took policing the whole community upon himself. His main nemeses were the many hoboes who illicitly road the rails into and out of town. He was reportedly killed by a vengeful circus clown in 1914.
This article appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.