Two polygamous police officers stripped of Utah certifications

Salt Lake Tribune/March 24, 2005
By Michael N. Westley

The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has voted to revoke the police certifications of Sam Roundy and Vance Barlow, polygamous police officers in southern Utah.

The revocation - passed unanimously and effective immediately - spells the end of their employment as police officers in the state of Utah.

Roundy has been police chief in Colorado City, Ariz., which also provides law enforcement in adjacent Hildale, Utah. Barlow was an officer.

Monday's disciplinary action reduces the size of the police force in Hildale from seven officers to five and opens the door for similar action by the state of Arizona.

Hildale Mayor Daniel Barlow lamented the revocations.

"They have been excellent officers and I think it's sad that the state [of Utah] has made the move," the mayor said.

Serving a community that straddles a state line requires certification in both states. And while the men may no longer police on the Utah side, they are - for the time being - still employed in Colorado City.

"For now, there's officers that can operate in Utah," Barlow said. "The department can continue to operate as they have in the past."

Roundy, who has served as the chief in Colorado City since 1994, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

The POST ruling followed an investigation by the Utah Attorney General's Office after allegations surfaced that as many as half of the police force were practicing polygamy - a felony under Utah law. In September, the group unanimously supported a motion to decertify any officer found to have more than one wife, said Washington County Commissioner Jim Eardley, who also serves on the POST council.

Monday's rulings were just two of 12 disciplinary actions the council voted on during its quarterly meeting.

The proceedings against Roundy and Barlow moved quickly and with little discussion, Eardley said.

"There's a certain understanding that we have to set a high standard, not just in this area but in all areas where officer behavior is concerned," Eardley said.

Post officials in Arizona will discuss the Utah decertifications during their meeting on April 20, said Arizona POST director Tom Hammarstrom. The meeting is expected to begin proceedings that will have a result similar to that in Utah, he said.

"An officer has an obligation to behave in ways that do not diminish the public trust," Hammarstrom said.

But while the community's structure of polygamy, which includes one legal marriage and additional church unions, is unlawful in Utah, it is not technically illegal in Arizona, which does not recognize the church unions, said Diana Stabler, assistant Arizona attorney general.

An Arizona officer who commits a felony in another state, however, violates POST disciplinary rule, she said. "They are free to work in Arizona until the board takes action," Stabler said.

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