Nearly five years after the Arizona Peace Officer Standards & Training (AZPOST) board received citizen complaints about the professional conduct of then-Colorado City Marshal Jerry Darger, the board will consider next week whether to accept Darger’s voluntary relinquishment of his peace officer certification.
News of the Feb. 17 board meeting comes after millions of dollars in settlement payouts as well as two federal trials showed how badly the Colorado City Marshal’s Office in northeast Mohave County mistreated people who were not part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS).
Darger was hired as Marshal in 2009 and fired in 2018, nearly two years after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) undertook the rare action of seeking to disband the small agency which also provides public safety services for sister city Hildale, Utah. He became the subject of an AZPOST compliance investigation in 2016.
Details of Darger’s offer to resolve the compliance issues will not be made public until presented to the board during next week’s meeting. However, records obtained by Arizona Daily Independent show Darger allegedly “falsely testified” about FLDS church security matters during a deposition with DOJ attorneys and then repeated that false testimony during a 2016 federal trial.
In 2016, the DOJ alleged officials from both towns were “operating as an arm” of the FLDS, a polygamous church controlled for several years by Warren Steed Jeffs. The church has dominated the political, business, and public safety landscape in both communities for more than two decades.
But in 2017, a federal judge issued multiple rulings and put into place court monitors to ensure Colorado City, Hildale, its Marshal’s Office, and individual employees ceased to discriminate against non-FLDS members. The federal judge also ordered a “mentor” for Darger, who remained in control of the agency until his firing in March 2018.
Colorado City officials reported the termination to AZPOST but said that misconduct was not involved in Darger’s separation. The town manager was David Darger, the marshal’s brother.
AZPOST records also show the compliance officer’s 2016 overview to the board alleged Darger allowed deputies to make a false arrest of two men in 2015 and that at one point Darger himself “unnecessarily pushed” one of the men. He was also alleged to have failed to complete 13 police reports from May 2011 to March 2016 involving reports of crimes against the United Effort Plan Trust.
Through various court actions the United Effort Plan Trust now owns much of the property in Colorado City and Hildale that was previously controlled by FLDS leaders. The Trust’s community board is comprised mostly of former FLDS members.
The Feb. 17 AZPOST meeting is also slated to consider peace officer applicant waivers from seven agencies and to consider initiating proceedings against eight current or former peace officers.