Colorado City Marshal’s Office adds 3 new officers

Officers with the Colorado City Marshal's Office attend Hildale City Council meeting for swearing-in ceremony, Hildale, Utah, May 16, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

HILDALE — Three new police officers joined the Colorado City Marshal’s Office during a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday prior to the Hildale City Council meeting, while the search for the agency’s new chief continues.

Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop speaks with officers from Colorado City Marshal’s Office before swearing-in ceremony, Hildale, Utah, May 16, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shawn Cox, Max Horsley and Hyrum Musser were sworn in by Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop before a large crowd and took the an oath to serve the two sister cities.

Cox, who was raised in nearby Cane Beds, Arizona, said he is grateful for the opportunity to serve a community “with a great history and great people.”

“And I understand the sacrifice the people here have made throughout the years,” he added.

Horsley grew up in the neighboring town of Centennial Park, Arizona. “I’ve always wanted to serve here, and I very much love this community,” he said.

Sgt. Sam Johnson, interim chief of the Colorado City Marshal’s Office, speaks to crowd during swearing-in ceremony, Hildale, Utah, May 16, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Musser, born in Salt Lake City and raised in the Hildale area, said he has always loved the area and is looking forward to serving the people of Colorado City and Hildale.

Sgt. Sam Johnson, interim chief of the department, said the new officers have been preparing for the last eight months, starting with the Utah Department of Public Services’ Peace Officer Standards and Training and followed by working with field training officers.

Colorado City Mayor, Joseph Allred, said the department is grateful to have the new officers on board, who are well qualified and will “help promote peace and prosperity in the community.”

The cadets are being certified in Utah first, and will then take the necessary testing to become Arizona certified.

“Within a few months they should be able to serve on both sides of the state line in the community,” Allred said, adding that Colorado City is “looking forward to continuing a good working relationship with Hildale in providing law enforcement services for our citizens,” he said.

Johnson said that the swearing-in process reflects the department’s commitment to move forward in providing law enforcement services to both communities while integrating the changes set forth by the courts. In recent years, a series of lawsuits and court filings led to a finding that the towns had denied housing and municipal services to residents who were not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which had controlled the community.

The sect used the police to enforce the discrimination.

“I can’t make all of the calls that are made, but I have a little more insight into the progress the Marshal’s Office has made over the last several years, and it’s been a difficult road – we’ve faced issues that other communities may not encounter,” said Johnson, who became acting chief after Chief Jerry Darger left the department in March.

Three Colorado City Marshal’s officers are sworn in at a ceremony held before the Hildale City Council meeting, Hildale, Utah, May 16, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Johnson added that Darger “did a good job and came into the department during some very difficult times, but he continued serving regardless.”

Officials are seeking to fill the chief’s position with an outsider, a move they say will bring more fairness to the departent.

Ideally, they are looking for a candidate with at least 20 years of law enforcement experience from outside of the area, allowing an objective view of the department’s operations, with the ability to see them with a fresh set of eyes, Colorado City Mayor Joseph Allred told St. George News in March.

A federal judge in 2016 ordered that police procedures be revised and that an independent mentor be appointed to advise the police chief in Colorado City.

The judge also ordered the appointment of an official to monitor the towns on behalf of the court, to observe municipal operations and to ensure they are following their respective states’ laws.

Both appointees have been working with officials during the hiring and training of the three officers sworn in Wednesday, and have assisted throughout the process of hiring a new chief, Johnson said.

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