Arizona revokes badges of 2 FLDS town marshals

Deseret Morning News/September 20, 2007

Arizona authorities have revoked the badges of two police officers from the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.

At a meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted unanimously to revoke the certifications of Colorado City Town Marshal Fred Barlow and one of his deputies, Preston Barlow.

"This was about peace officers not doing their job," said Tom Hammarstrom, the director of Arizona POST.

Utah POST officials told the Deseret Morning News they were considering what action to take next but were expected to follow Arizona's lead. The marshals are cross-deputized in both states.

"It's a little bit up in the air whether we'll take emergency revocation action or suspension," said Utah POST director Rich Townsend.

The marshals have faced continued scrutiny over their loyalties to Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs, who is now on trial in St. George's 5th District Court on charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.

The marshals were accused of refusing to answer questions from investigators. Marshal Fred Barlow was also accused of seeking guidance from Jeffs, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted list at the time.

"I love you and acknowledge you as my priesthood head," he wrote in a letter obtained by Arizona authorities. "And I know that you have the right to rule in all aspects of my live (sic). I yearn to hear from you."

The marshal signed the letter, "Your servant, Fred J. Barlow Jeffs."

At Wednesday's meeting, the marshals were represented by an attorney, who spoke on their behalf. However, he was not able to persuade the board to change its mind about revoking their peace officer certifications.

Calls to the marshals' attorney were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Fred Barlow and Preston Barlow represent only two of seven officers in Hildale/Colorado City, Utah POST said. Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said he has not been asked to assign additional deputies to the area to fill any void.

"I believe they've got people lined up to step in and meet the needs of their community," he said Wednesday.

Utah POST has already stripped several other Hildale/Colorado City town marshals of their badges. Townsend said since they began sanctioning the marshals, he has noticed a "definite change" in the attitude of the FLDS officers.

"There's much more openness and understanding that these officers have to be 100 percent unbiased and beholden to no one," he said.

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