ST. GEORGE, Utah – Two officers in border towns where many residents belong to a polygamous sect were stripped of their badges in Arizona, and Utah will open its own probe, an official said Thursday.
Fred Barlow, marshal in Colorado City, Ariz., and Preston Barlow, a deputy, were decertified Wednesday in Arizona after an investigation found them guilty of misconduct.
They were accused of not cooperating in civil proceedings involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a criminal investigation of its embattled leader, Warren Jeffs.
In October 2005, when Jeffs was on the run from authorities, Fred Barlow wrote a letter in which he warmly referred to him as "Uncle Warren" and pledged "our desire to stand with you and the priesthood."
Utah officials were waiting for a decision by Arizona before pursuing their own investigation, said Maj. Rich Townsend, executive director of Police Officer Standards and Training.
"Arizona received the information first, and we just didn't feel like it was right or appropriate for Utah to jump right in the middle of it," Townsend said.
He said he will meet with Hildale, Utah, Mayor David Zitting next week to discuss what the city plans to do with the Barlows. Hildale pays Colorado City $12,000 a year for police services, according to the contract.
The Barlows could voluntarily surrender their Utah credentials, Townsend said.
They also can appeal to an Arizona court. Phone calls to their attorneys seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Since 2003, six officers in the towns have been decertified for various reasons, including polygamy, a central tenet of the FLDS church. The action against the Barlows leaves Colorado City with six officers.
Jeffs, 51, is on trial in St. George on charges of rape as an accomplice for his role in the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old girl to an older cousin in 2001. Closing arguments will be heard Friday.