Arizona’s attorney general is asking for a federal civil rights review of the police department in Colorado City, saying officers there are acting as agents of a polygamous church instead of serving the law.
Terry Goddard said many complaints from other law enforcement officials and citizens prompted him to ask U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to have the Justice Department conduct a preliminary inquiry, a step that could lead to a formal investigation and possible legal action.
“I believe that the officers of the Colorado City Police Department have engaged in a pattern of practices of conduct that deprives individuals of their constitutional and civil rights,” Goddard wrote in a letter to Gonzales.
The state has moved to strip some of those police officers of their law enforcement certification in the isolated town on the Arizona-Utah line, where most of the residents belong to a Mormon sect headed by self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs.
Colorado City Police Chief Fred Barlow did not return a call for comment Friday.
But Gary Engels, special investigator for the Mohave County attorney, whose work over the past eight months has led to indictments of Jeffs and eight other leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said a federal investigation would be welcome news.
“I think it is a darn good idea,” Engels said.