SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah state board with oversight over police departments is concerned about officers in border towns populated by members of a so-called fundamentalist Mormon sect.
The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council voted to investigate the Hildale/Colorado City Town Marshal’s Office.
The council, which met Wednesday, was told that officers are too loyal to Warren Jeffs, leader of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Jeffs is in jail in Washington County waiting to learn whether he will stand trial on charges linked to the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man. The hearing resumes Dec. 14.
“We feel like this police department is Warren Jeffs’ private goon squad on taxpayer dollars,” said Zachary Shields, lawyer for a court-appointed accountant overseeing the church’s finances.
He said Hildale officers have not cooperated with investigations into stolen property.
“We basically have no trust in the police officers. They have other loyalties,” Shields said.
Fred Barlow, a marshal who oversees the officers, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.
A member of the training council, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, called for suspending their certification and asking Washington County and the Utah Highway Patrol to take over on the Utah-Arizona border.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said it may be too burdensome for the county.
“I don’t think they have a good attitude toward us,” sheriff’s Lt. Jake Adams said of residents there.
The council did not suspend any officers but revoked the certification of Hildale officer Mica Barlow, who was jailed for three weeks after refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Jeffs’ disappearance.
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