ST. GEORGE – Officials from police academies in Utah and Arizona will meet here today to consider whether the town marshals who patrol a polygamist enclave on the border should be stripped of their badges.
Officers in the tiny Colorado City, Ariz., Town Marshal’s office are all said to be members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an insular faith of about 10,000 whose members practice polygamy and consider their leader, Warren Jeffs, a prophet of God.
An investigation launched by Utah in December accuses officers of misconduct for being more loyal to Jeffs than to their badges and oath of office. Officers are cross-deputized to work in Utah and are certified in both states. They patrol Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, where most FLDS church members live.
Police have reportedly ignored court orders related to properties held in a church trust and refused to cooperate in depositions conducted by trust attorneys.
POST officials in both states sent officers a warning letter last year reminding them of their duties as sworn officers.
If Utah were to decertify the whole department, the Washington County sheriff’s office would likely be asked to take over police duties for Hildale.
Currently the county has one deputy who patrols the area.
Utah officials are investigating the entire department of about eight officers, including Town Marshal Fred Barlow.
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