After twice failing to convince lawmakers to pass a law forcing a polygamous enclave to disband its police force, Attorney General Tom Horne is now taking the request to a federal judge.
Horne is basing it on the comments of a former police chief who admitted he lied under oath April 2 in a civil trial. The former chief, Helaman Barlow, originally testified police officers in the twin cities of Colorado City and Hilldale, Utah, don’t discriminate based on religion, but he later told federal prosecutors the officers are more loyal to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints than the law, an assertion Horne has argued for years.
Horne has asked Judge James Teilborg of U.S. District Court in Phoenix to order law enforcement in both cities to be turned over to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The request came as part of a proposed judgment in a civil trial in which the jury in March found the two cities and their utilities discriminated against a couple on the basis of religion.
In 2012 and 2013 Horne pushed legislation to disband the Colorado City Marshal’s Office because he said the loyalties of police officers there lay with imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs. Those allegations have been repeated in a lawsuit against the two cities brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Horne contends that police officers there often return underage girls to older men they were forced to marry.
Barlow admitted to lying in the civil trial during a deposition in the lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. He received immunity from prosecution from the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for his deposition testimony.
According to court documents, Barlow testified in his deposition that police officers in the two towns are more loyal to Lyle Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ son, than they are to their sworn oaths of duty.
Horne has used money seized from criminals to pay for Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies to patrol Colorado City, but the amount of money received from the forfeitures was inconsistent.
Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a $500,000 appropriation in 2014 that would have paid for the patrols, but Horne vowed to continue to find ways to pay for them.