Justice Department urges judge to dismantle FLDS towns’ police force

Salt Lake City -- In new court filings, the U.S. Department of Justice continues to push a federal judge to dismantle the police force in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

“Like the Cities themselves, Defendants’ Colorado City Marshal’s Office (“CCMO”) operates as an arm of the FLDS Church. The CCMO regularly discriminates on the basis of religion, ignores constitutional protections afforded to non-FLDS members and crimes committed by the Church, and obstructs the ability of non-FLDS members and the United Effort Plan Trust (“UEP Trust” or “Trust”) to live and operate in the community,” Emily Savner, an attorney for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote in a brief filed Friday night in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

The court filing is the Justice Department’s final arguments in its case against the Hildale and Colorado City governments, accusing them of acting on the whims of imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and discriminating against people who are not members of the FLDS Church.

“To ensure that the Church does not use government law enforcement to enforce its religious edicts, and to remedy decades of constitutional violations and establish constitutional policing in Short Creek, the CCMO must be disbanded,” Savner wrote, adding that the Washington County and Mohave County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s offices are prepared to step in and provide police services.

The Justice Department also asks the judge to appoint someone to oversee the town governments to ensure that there is no discrimination in housing and services. Attorneys for Hildale and Colorado City will have a chance to respond in their own filing, but they have pushed back against the sanctions, arguing that changes have already been instituted.

U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland is considering the penalties for the towns after a jury earlier this year found they did discriminate in government services against non-FLDS members. A ruling is expected in a few months.