SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A police officer from a polygamist town on Utah’s southern border has voluntarily surrendered his certification, ending a state investigation into his refusal to testify before an Arizona grand jury.
Mica S. Barlow has signed a consent agreement that permanently revokes his peace officer certification and ends his law enforcement career, said Maj. Rich Townsend, director of Utah’s police academy known as POST – Peace Officer Standards and Training.
“I guess he realized his career in law enforcement was over,” Townsend said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Barlow signed the agreement Sept. 27. His certification revocation will become final after a vote of POST’s governing board in December, POST Lt. Steve Winward said.
Barlow worked for the Colorado City Town Marshal’s Office, a small department which provides public safety services for Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. and where deputies hold certifications from both states.
Arizona officials are seeking a similar consent agreement from Barlow, although it’s not yet in hand, Arizona POST Deputy Director Lyle Mann said.
Barlow, 36, resigned from his job in September, less than a week after being released from a federal prison in Arizona where he was being held for contempt of court. In April, Barlow ignored a subpoena from an Arizona grand jury and a judge ordered him held.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, but it’s widely known that Arizona federal prosecutors were seeking information about Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose members live in the sister communities of Colorado City and Hildale and practice polygamy.
A police officer in Utah since 1997, Barlow was one of six men – but the only officer – who refused the grand jury and was incarcerated. All were released within days of Jeff’s Aug. 28 arrest near Las Vegas.
Jeffs is facing first-degree felony rape charges in St. George, Utah, and is in jail awaiting a Nov. 21 hearing to determine if prosecutors have enough evidence to try him.
Barlow’s refusal to testify prompted POST’s investigation, which began in September.
Townsend and his Arizona counterparts in March sent warning letters to all of Colorado City’s police officers that reminded them of their duties to uphold state and federal laws.
Colorado City’s police force, who are all believed to be members of the FLDS church, have been criticized in the past for deferring to church leaders ahead of state laws.
Townsend said he’s monitoring the department closely and recently talked with Town Marshal Fred Barlow about the issue again.
“I advised him, and his officers, to follow all orders of the court and grand jury, or they stand to also lose their certification,” Townsend said.