Attorney General Won't Prosecute Polygamist Policemen

Attorney General Won't Prosecute Polygamist Policemen

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Attorney General Mark Shurtleff doesn't plan to prosecute the polygamist policemen in Hildale, but he would like the state to take away their law-enforcement certification.

Hildale and adjacent Colorado City, Ariz., are home to the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Officers are cross-certified in the two states.

Following an eight-month investigation, Shurtleff's office concluded that seven of Hildale's 13 officers were practicing polygamists, some officers turned a blind eye to crimes by fellow officers and some officers lied about completing required training hours.

Shurtleff is not pursuing criminal charges on any of the accusations.

"We just don't have the resources to start charging bigamy," he said.

Shurtleff forwarded the report by his polygamy investigator, Ron Barton, to the director of the state's police academy, Sid Groll.

It also will go to Washington County Attorney Brock R. Belnap, who will decide whether to pursue the matter himself.

The investigation was started after prosecutors filed charges of bigamy and unlawful sex with a minor against Hildale/Colorado City Officer Rodney Holm, who was convicted last August and sentenced to one year in jail.

Utah's Peace Officer Standards and Training council revoked his police certification two months later.

Groll said POST investigators will hold off following up on the polygamy and failure to intercede allegations until the Washington County attorney decides what he is going to do.

However, they will look at the Hildale force's training hours.

Groll said five officers, including police Chief Sam Roundy, failed last year to complete the 40 hours of training required each fiscal year for an officer to remain current. Their certifications were temporarily revoked, but reinstated in September.

The attorney general's investigation states that some officers didn't receive all the training they said they had.

Hildale Mayor David Zitter said Barton is a nuisance and Shurtleff is making "a direct assault on polygamy."

Zitter said Shurtleff is going back on his statements that he would not target polygamy itself, but other crimes such as sex with a minor.

Shurtleff said police officers need to be held to a higher standard.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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