Hildale/Colorado City ask judge to keep police force together

SALT LAKE CITY — The town governments of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are asking a federal judge to keep the border town’s police force intact.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, attorneys for the towns pushed back at a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to disband the Colorado City Marshal’s Office. It follows a jury verdict last year that determined the communities — home to the Fundamentalist LDS Church — discriminated against non-members of the church in government services.

The Justice Department has alleged the police force acted as a de facto arm of imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. He’s serving a life sentence in Texas for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.”

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

A screen grab of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence. (FOX 13 News)

In the court filing, Hildale and Colorado City’s lawyers argued there should be some changes and regulation, but argued against dissolving the police force and handing it over to the Washington County (Utah) and Mohave County (Ariz.) sheriff’s departments. They argued police services would be worse if the marshal’s office were disbanded.

“First, Sheriff Pulsipher admitted that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office does not have the resources or manpower necessary to provide 24-hour police presence in Hildale. In fact, he currently has only four deputies on duty to cover the entire 2,500 square miles within the county, which Sheriff Pulsipher described as already ‘thin’ coverage due to the ‘vast area’ of the county,” Colorado City attorney Jeffrey Matura and Hildale attorney Blake Hamilton wrote in the filing.

The town governments’ lawyers proposed hiring more lawyers, changing the committee that selects the officers, rewriting policies, requiring officers to wear body cameras and ongoing training.

Read the filing by Hildale and Colorado City here: