Entire Hildale Police force suspended

Associated Press/August 12, 2003

St. George, Utah -- All five Hildale, Utah, police officers have been suspended for six weeks for failing to fulfill a 40-hour annual training requirement mandated by Utah state law, state and county officials said.

Officials said Monday that since July 1, the start of the fiscal year, the five officers working under an intercity agreement for the police departments in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., have lost their policing powers in Utah, including searching, interrogating and making police arrests.

''Most of them appear to have low numbers of hours needed,'' said Sid Groll, director of Peace Officer Standards and Training at the Utah Department of Public Safety. ''They will have no authority until their hours are made up.''

Utah law requires that police officers fulfill at least 40 hours of in-service training to keep their POST certificate. Groll didn't release the exact number of hours the Hildale officers are still lacking, but he said Police Chief Sam Roundy is ''a few hours short.''

The officers, however, still have their Arizona POST certificate, which requires eight hours of training every year.

Most of Hildale and Colorado City's residents belong to the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Hildale's population is 2,000, Colorado City's, 4,000.

In addition to the police force, the two towns also have joint agreements in other municipal areas.

Since Hildale's police force lost its power, said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith, his officers have been on standby. He said he was surprised to learn that all the police officers are suspended.

''It's not unusual to have officers that don't turn their reports and hours in on time,'' Smith said. ''That happens periodically. For the entire police department - that is unusual.''

Dan Barlow, Colorado City mayor and unofficial spokesman for the FLDS church, insisted that only ''a couple'' of the five active officers needed extra hours and ''Sam (Roundy) is OK.''

''(It) won't have any impact at all,'' he said. ''It's nothing serious. It's no crisis.''

Groll agreed. ''It's really not a great crisis,'' he said. ''If they put their hours in, it won't be a problem. If they perform the duty without authority, then it could be a problem.''

Groll, who wrote a letter to the police force a month ago, said he had never seen an entire department fail to fulfill the POST requirement. If Roundy reports that his officers have reached 40 hours, they will be reactivated.

With Hildale about an hour away from St. George, Smith said he's considering establishing a substation in the Apple Valley and Hildale area, where the population has grown in recent years.

But the cost of a substation remains prohibitive, Smith said. ''We are a long way to putting an officer there,'' he said.

The Washington County Sheriff's office has 35 patrol officers, who are reminded every year by his assistant about the annual POST requirements, Smith said.

A former sworn Hildale officer, Rodney Holm, is on trial this week in St. George on charges of bigamy and unlawful sexual activity.

The Utah Attorney General's Office has scheduled a summit on polygamy for Aug. 21 in St. George, said Paul Murphy, spokesman for Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Participants will include law enforcement agencies and women and children's services.

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