The chief law enforcer in two Utah-Arizona border towns is accused of misconduct after writing a letter pledging love and allegiance to the leader of a polygamous sect, who was on the FBI's most wanted list at the time.
"I love you and ... know that you have the right to rule in all aspects of my life," Fred Barlow wrote in the October 2005 letter to Warren Jeffs. "Without priesthood I am nothing."
Barlow warmly addressed Jeffs as "Uncle Warren" and closed the letter by referring to himself as Jeffs' "servant."
Barlow is the police chief of a joint department serving Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah. Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has 10,000 followers in those two towns.
The FLDS church practices polygamy and congregants revere Jeffs as a prophet and are taught to be obedient, including marrying at his behest.
Jeffs was arrested near Las Vegas on Aug. 28. A judge will decide next Thursday whether he will stand trial in Utah on charges of rape as an accomplice for forcing a teenage girl to marry an older cousin. He also faces similar charges in Arizona.
"I am praying for you to be protected and yearn to be with you again," Barlow wrote. "I and all of the other officers have expressed our desire to stand with you and the priesthood."
Officers accused of being too loyal
The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board is using the letter as evidence in one of three misconduct charges against Barlow, who could lose his certification. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained the letter and published it Friday.
Separately, the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council this week voted to conduct its own probe of the police force, whose officers are accused of being too loyal to Jeffs.
Barlow even consulted Jeffs on a personnel matter in the letter. He named a police academy graduate he planned to hire — "unless you would like us to do something different."
Federal authorities obtained the missive on Oct. 28, 2005, when Jeffs' brother, Seth Jeffs, was arrested in Colorado with correspondence, money and other supplies believed to be intended for Warren Jeffs.
Barlow did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Friday. In an interview with Arizona regulators Aug. 10, Barlow said he does not get daily advice from Jeffs, but "we may ask for some advice on some things if we can get it."