Police under Fire in Polygamy Areas
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
December 7, 2006
Sandy — Police officers in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are under investigation by the agency that disciplines cops.
The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council voted Wednesday to put the entire Hildale/Colorado City Town Marshal's Office under investigation over their loyalties to Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs.
"We feel like this police department is Warren Jeffs' private goon squad on taxpayer dollars," lawyer Zachary Shields told the council. He is representing the court-appointed special fiduciary of the FLDS Church's financial arm, the United Effort Plan Trust.
Jeffs is currently in Washington County's Purgatory Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of arranging a child bride marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs is scheduled to be back in St. George's 5th District Court for a preliminary hearing next week.
The courts took control of the UEP Trust, which Shields said controls about 95 percent of the land in Hildale and Colorado City. It was recently reformed by a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court.
Shields told the POST Council that special fiduciary Bruce Wisan had no cooperation from Hildale police in investigating theft of property. Officers have refused to answer deposition questions about the FLDS Church and are believed to be acting under another authority.
"We basically have no trust in the police officers. They have other loyalties," Shields said.
Those claims angered several members of the POST Council, which handles officer certification and discipline.
"Based on what you've provided us, we should suspend the certification pending an investigation of any officer in Hildale City," Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner said. "Law enforcement services should be provided by Washington County and the Utah Highway Patrol."
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff expressed concern that the Washington County Sheriff's Office would be overburdened.
"We pay for one deputy out there through a federal grant," he said.
Other council members feared that a sudden removal of the police department could lead to more trouble.
"These are people who think differently than we do. I think we're asking for another Singer-Swapp situation," Utah Highway Patrol Superintendent Lance Davenport said, referring to the notorious 1988 law enforcement stand-off with a polygamous family near Kamas.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday it could move resources around to provide police coverage of Hildale but expressed concern that residents would be reluctant to report crimes to an outside law enforcement agency.
"I don't think they have a good attitude toward us," Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams told the Deseret Morning News, adding he did not believe the FLDS people would be violent.
While the council decided to delay suspending any officers, they did revoke the certification of Hildale police officer Mica Barlow, who served three weeks in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Arizona about Jeffs' whereabouts.
After resigning from his job, Barlow reportedly made a statement to POST investigators.
"If he had to choose between his church and being a police officer, he would choose his church," Shurtleff said, recounting the comment. "That has nothing to do with why he's being revoked."
Last year, the POST Council decertified Hildale Town Marshal Sam Roundy because he is a polygamist.
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