Public Safety & Justice

Arizona AG Asks Judge to Shut Down Polygamous Towns’ Police Force

June 18, 2014

The Arizona attorney general is asking a federal judge to disband the police department of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, pointing to statements by the town marshal admitting law enforcement officers discriminated against residents who do not belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and tried to protect members, including now-imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.

City Marshal Helaman Barlow made the statements in April, contradicting his testimony from a civil rights trial less than a month earlier, according to documents filed Monday in federal court by Arizona AG Thomas Horne.

After non-FLDS residents Ronald and Jinjer Cooke won their discrimination lawsuit against the mostly-polygamous towns, the department put Barlow — no longer an FLDS member himself — on paid leave. Barlow secured immunity from state and federal prosecutors, admitted to falsely denying discrimination by deputies in the Cooke trial, and recounted numerous incidents where deputies tried to thwart legal action against FLDS members and harm non-members.

Barlow admitted to secretly recording meetings with Texas and federal investigators about Warren Jeffs while Jeffs was a fugitive, wanted for sexually abusing young girls he had married and overseeing the marriages of young girls to other men. Barlow said he gave the tapes to allies of Jeffs, who could deliver them to Jeffs while he was hiding in various safe houses. Jeffs was arrested in 2006 and later convicted in cases in Utah and Texas.

Barlow also admitted to turning a blind eye to illegal marriages of young girls in Hilldale and Colorado City by FLDS men, including one deputy in the marshal’s office, Horne wrote.

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