By BEN WINSLOW, FOX13 NEWS
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Colorado City, Ariz., Is asking a federal judge for changes in a long-standing lawsuit alleging discrimination in law enforcement and government services by members of a polygamous church.
In a recent court file obtained by Fox13 in Salt Lake City, Colorado City, said that a law enforcement consultant had completed his duties and his services should no longer be required.
“There is nothing else left. And because all tasks are now complete, the consultant has moved into a monitoring role, where he periodically meets with various people at Colorado City Marshal’s Office (CCMO), ”wrote Jeffrey Matura, an attorney representing the city. “While Colorado City appreciates the consultant’s oversight efforts, this work does not come cheap and costs Colorado City several thousand dollars in fees payable to the consultant each month. Colorado City is a public entity; therefore, it is the residents of Colorado City who ultimately bear the financial burden of the consultant’s ongoing monitoring efforts.
Matura wrote that the city’s police force had 100% turnover since 2017 and that the supervisors within the agency had no connection with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints. Days.
But in response to the petition, a court-appointed observer for the community suggested Colorado City hadn’t changed much since a jury found the town on the Utah border discriminated against. non-members of the FLDS church.
“The historic challenges and corruption that arose out of the CCMO were in large part due to guidance given by city and church officials. While there is hope that this will not happen again, it should be noted that several current city officials were part of the previously doomed administration, including the elected leader, ”Roger Carter wrote in another file. obtained by Fox 13.
Hildale’s government changed completely with a secular council elected by the voters. Colorado City, however, has been slower to change, Carter said.
“While Hildale city officials viewed the Order as a way to bring stability to the community, sentiment among Colorado city officials was one of ‘tolerance’ for the Order,” he wrote. “Sometimes this is demonstrated in the passive-aggressive comments from officials, such as when are they done with us, aren’t we tired of being in the community and are we ready to move on. On several occasions, through commentary and conduct, I felt that city officials viewed the imposition of this order as the biggest miscarriage of justice in the community and not the underlying reasons for the order.
Carter urged the judge to keep the police consultant in place. In its own case, the US Department of Justice also opposed Colorado City’s request.
The federal government sued the governments of Hildale and Colorado City in 2017, accusing them of discriminating against non-members of the FLDS Church. Among the allegations, the police were more loyal to polygamous leader Warren Jeffs than to the residents they were supposed to serve and protect.
A jury ruled against the communities after a trial and a federal judge in Phoenix put them under 10 years of surveillance. This included hiring the police consultant to institute reforms within the Colorado City Marshal’s office.
Once a stronghold of the FLDS church, Hildale overthrew all of her political leadership, including electing his first wife and former FLDS mayor, Donia Jessop. Colorado City saw some changes in its political leadership, but former FLDS member Andrew Chatwin said the mayor and council members were still staunch members.
Chatwin himself sued Colorado City in 2006, accusing the police department of violating his civil rights during an arrest and received a settlement.
“This is why the Monitor, in my opinion, is so important,” he said in an interview with FOX 13. “Because the church ran the mayor, judges and the police department. need that monitor out there to make sure they don’t continue to violate people’s civil rights.
The communities remain a patchwork of devout FLDS, ex-FLDS and non-FLDS Church members. But both communities have undergone significant cultural shifts in recent years, moving away from the once rigid controls of the FLDS (fundamentalist Mormonism is a belief system that is an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) . For example, Colorado City opened its first bar.
“We have seen huge changes in the way the community reacts, how the theocracy is no longer so strong,” Chatwin said, adding that he believed the imprint of those who were still members of the church FLDS “has gone down to maybe 10%.”
Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sexual abuse in connection with underage marriages.
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