Polygamist towns’ marshal sought directives from sect leader

PHOENIX – The chief marshal of the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border acknowledges he sought directives from sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Still, Fred J. Barlow insists that the currently-jailed Jeffs had the right to run the police department.

Barlow, the chief marshal of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., said Jeffs wants the marshals office run “according to the laws of the land.” That includes state law, Barlow said.

Barlow and deputy marshal Preston L. Barlow are the subject of a hearing here this week to determine whether they committed misconduct as peace officers. Fred Barlow has three allegations against him.

One allegation deals with a letter Fred Barlow sent Jeffs while he was a fugitive. The letter pledged allegiance to Jeffs and asked for direction on how to run the marshals – who are the police force in Hildale and Colorado City.

The other two allegations accuse Fred Barlow of not answering questions during a deposition and for an Arizona attorney general investigator inquiring about Jeffs’ whereabouts.

Preston Barlow also is accused of failing to answer the investigator’s questions. That is the lone allegation against Preston Barlow.

If the administrative law judge conducting the hearing upholds the allegations, the Barlows, who are cousins, could have their certification as Arizona peace officers suspended or revoked. Utah police regulators have said they will review whether to discipline the pair when the Arizona proceedings conclude.

As the hearing’s first witness, Fred Barlow said the letter October 2005 letter to Jeffs was a “letter of accountability,” an FLDS tradition where a member affirms his allegiance to the prophet and seeks spiritual guidance to help him perform his duties.

Fred Barlow said he did not want the letter read in the hearing room.

“I feel like it’s privileged communication,” he said.

But Fred Barlow replied with a “no” when asked if Jeffs had the right to dictate how the department is run.

The chief marshal said he sent Jeffs the letter by giving it to a family member who placed it in a box during a religious service.

“It was common knowledge that the things in the box were church documents,” Fred Barlow testified.

The attorney for the two marshals, Bruce Griffen, said in his opening argument the Barlows refusal to answer questions were due in large part to lack of information about the interview agendas and confusion about what was occurring. Fred Barlow was new to the chief marshal position while Preston Barlow had been a certified peace officer for three weeks when he spoke to the attorney general investigator.

“They can wear both hats successfully, ” Griffen said. “They can have their deep-seeded religious beliefs and do their job effectively.”

Griffen said he would ask the judge to dismiss the allegations or recommend a minimum punishment based on mitigating factors.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 18, 2007.
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