The Quest to Become Chief of Police : The Illustrious Career of George Augustus Sheets
Utah Historical Quarterly
Geoge A. Sheets' career as a Salt Lake City Police officer reflects continuous conflict between the all-Mormon Peoples Party and the anti-Mormon Liberal Party. Many Mormon voters were disenfranchised after the 1887 Edmunds Tucker Law regarding polygamy. Consequently, in 1890, the entire Salt Lake Police force shifted from being completely comprised of Mormons, to having none at all. Sheets, although he may have had Mormon ties at one point, was appointed Chief of Police by the Liberals in 1890. Both the Liberal and Peoples Parties had disbanded by 1893, so most Mormons began to side with Democrats, and the "gentiles" began to side with the Republicans. Despite an "Era of Good Feelings" when many Mormons were encouraged to become Republicans to better their chances of attaining statehood, conflicts soon arose again. Even though official religious parties had been dissolved, voting on the city council still followed religious lines. The exact split that existed in the council once prevented Sheets' approval as chief of police. There was a power shift again in 1905, when the new American Party won, and Sheets was again nominated as Chief of Police.