Polygamous towns oppose bid to disband police department

This 2015 St. George News photo shows a Hildale/Colorado City Marshal vehicle parked near the Hildale City Hall, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

PHOENIX (AP) — Two polygamous towns on the Utah-Arizona line are vigorously opposing a bid to disband their shared police department as a way to remedy religious-based discrimination against nonbelievers, saying problems at the agency don’t require such a drastic step.

They also urged a judge in court papers Tuesday to resist the U.S. Justice Department’s proposal to get an official appointed to monitor town operations in response to a civil-rights verdict three months ago against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.

A jury concluded that the neighboring towns violated the constitutional rights of nonbelievers by denying them basic government services such as police protection, building permits and water hookups. The police department was found to have arrested nonbelievers without having probable cause and made unreasonable searches of property.

U.S. Judge H. Russel Holland has scheduled hearings in October to consider remedies to the constitutional violations.

Federal authorities alleged the towns are operated as an arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, which disavowed polygamy more than 100 years ago.

They say 30 percent of the towns’ officers over the last 15 years have been decertified. Under the federal government’s proposal, law enforcement for the towns would be turned over to local sheriffs.

The towns said police departments in other municipalities that have been targeted in federal civil rights investigations haven’t faced disbandment.

They cited a settlement between the Justice Department and Ferguson, Missouri, that called for changes in the city where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer. The settlement calls for diversity training, body cameras for officers and other steps.

Attorneys for Colorado City and Hildale acknowledged the police department — also known as the Colorado City Marshal’s Office — has had problems in the past, but they said no officers have been decertified since 2007.

“The officers within the Marshal’s Department are not killing people, raping women, stealing guns or money, running a drug-trafficking operation, or engaging in any similar misconduct,” the towns’ lawyers said.

The towns said the request for a court-appointed monitor to oversee the overhaul of local government would be costly and unnecessary.

Instead, they say the towns can resolve their problems through policy changes and employee training and should be able to demonstrate their compliance through reports and documents.

Written by: JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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7 Comments

  • ladybugavenger June 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Of course they oppose it. They can make policy changes and open up their food stamp fraud education center where all members can learn, “How to commit food stamp fraud and not get caught, where did we go wrong?” Sign up for your free classes ( sponsored by welfare)

    • .... June 2, 2016 at 8:58 am

      It seems somebody had upset the American way of life !!!l. LOL !

  • anybody home June 1, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    “The towns said the request for a court-appointed monitor to oversee the overhaul of local government would be costly and unnecessary.

    Instead, they say the towns can resolve their problems through policy changes and employee training and should be able to demonstrate their compliance through reports and documents.”

    Yeah, right. In your dreams.

  • .... June 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Well it seems Real Life will have to relocate

  • Bob June 1, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    legal system up there would be as corrupt as some of the worst countries in the world. need to take all power from these pligs

  • SteveSGU June 1, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    For the most part, the people opposing the disbanding of the Marsh all’s office are only FLDS followers, but there are many people there who are not FLDS whose rights and safety need to be protected from those corrupt and dishonest officers.

  • Ronnie Keith June 2, 2016 at 12:57 am

    I agree the last thing that cult of child molester and thieves wants in their cities, is real law enforcement not under the direct control of their evil master…

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