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New marshal in Tombstone already making changes

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New marshal in Tombstone already making changes

  • Billy Cloud, Tombstone’s new marshal, says he’ll bring accountability and transparency to his office.
    James Bourland/Arizona-Sonora News ServiceBilly Cloud, Tombstone’s new marshal, says he’ll bring accountability and transparency to his office.

Though the sign in the office still welcomes visitors to Marshal Larry Talvy's office, a new man wears the five-pointed badge in Tombstone.

Billy Cloud, the former interim chief of police of Patagonia, who ran for the appointment of marshal two years ago but came up short to Talvy, was recently appointed by Mayor Jack Henderson to run the police department and keep the peace in the Cochise County town of 1,500.

"His oath was to defend the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the state of Arizona and the ordinances and quirks in Tombstone," Henderson said, chuckling. "We picked the most experienced man that applied, and I think we're quite fortunate to get someone with that much experience and decent values. He's going to bring a lot to the community."

The salt-and-pepper haired, 42-year-old marshal said he's already started his job by "meeting business owners and managers and seeing what we can do to help them, or what we've done in the past that has hindered them." He said he wants to bring more accountability and transparency to the marshal's office.

Newly sworn-in Ward 4 councilman Randy Davis, a former Los Angeles police officer, screened seven applicants for the marshal's position prior to the City Council's appointment of Cloud.

"(Cloud) will make the marshal's office much more effective and professional," Davis said.

Cloud has worked in various law enforcement positions in the past, and he's also worked in organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Huachucans, a civic organization in Sierra Vista. He spent nearly eight years in the Army.

The marshal also has had prior business experience, and he said he'll be working with businesses to try to improve preparedness for event weekends. There's also talk that Tombstone will change an ordinance that limits businesses from hawking merchandise and services in front of their stores.

Motioning toward Allen Street, Tombstone's main drag, Cloud said working in conjunction with businesses to coincide with some of the event weekends "may actually help bolster some of what we've got to offer here."

Cloud, who currently resides in Sierra Vista, saw his first few minutes on the job begin with an unexpected-yet-short-lived addition to the department.

On the night of Cloud's swearing in, former Mayor Dustin Escapule's last act as head of the city was to sign a "personnel action form" for Talvy, giving the ex-marshal a position as deputy marshal.

Escapule's actions proved to be fruitless after officials looked at the Tombstone City Charter and Cloud reversed the action. Still, Henderson said he and the rest of the members of the new council were shocked.

Cloud said he was somewhat prepared for the action to give Talvy a new job.

"Because of the history of this town, I wasn't surprised that somebody had attempted to do this action," he said, grinning and clasping his hands. "I had prepared for a lot of eventualities for the night of the swearing in. I knew it wasn't personal. It's a man fighting for his job, but it just needed to be done properly."

Cloud reversed the action the next day. After a discussion with Talvy, Cloud said the move was not a "nefarious act" by the former mayor, but the new council gave him the decision to hire Talvy, which he did not.

"The mayor and council did not direct my actions in this," Cloud said. "They were advised in what I was doing, but they told me it was completely my decision. I give them the respect that they are following through with their desire to not politicize law enforcement."

While his preparedness paid off that night, the new marshal understands how law enforcement and politics collide in a small town. He also knows that his two-year appointment in Tombstone is not guaranteed.

"I serve at the will and pleasure of the mayor," he said. "I can be removed for any reason. But the mayor and council do not have the right to have access to all ongoing criminal investigations."

Cloud clarified that while the council would not have direct access to the marshal's department, summaries would be given to the council to help keep it informed.

Davis, the liaison between the marshal's department and the council, explained the group's pick.

"One of the requirements was 15 years or more in law enforcement, and the other was sergeant or an above supervisor capacity," Davis said. "The council and mayor reviewed the same resumes I did. We've got high expectations of him (Cloud) and think he's going to work on fulfilling the expectations we have."

Cloud also has worked for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, first as a highway patrolman then a detective.

The father of three has listed several changes he'd like to make in Tombstone, including an effort to obtain grants, a school resource officer for Tombstone High School and a possible motor vehicle enforcement officer, which the town currently lacks.

The biggest change to the department, however, has been agreed upon by both the council and Cloud.

He said he plans "fair and impartial law enforcement. All the rules and laws apply to all the people here, whether they're tourists, local people, a business owner or family member of one of the council members. They've made it really clear to me that they are trying to separate the politics from the law enforcement."

Even with all the "quirks" of the job, as Henderson put it, the marshal said he is looking forward to his position.

"There's some cool points in the fact that you're the marshal of Tombstone, Arizona, the world's most famous city in western mythology," he added. "It's a unique challenge because you have the people who live here and you have business owners. And there are the tourists, who have their own perceptions and misperceptions about the Wild West and Tombstone.

"It's a balancing act. You're part PR manager but a full-time law enforcement manager, and you've gotta have that balance."

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