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La Verkin loses 2nd officer

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LA VERKIN, Washington County — A second officer has turned his badge in to the city over its new U.N.-Free Zone ordinance.

Officer Jake Adams resigned Friday; officer Perry Lambert left his position Thursday.

"I think those fellows resigned because they had some deep-seated, personal feelings over the ordinance," La Verkin Mayor Dan Howard said Monday. "I'm sorry to see them go. They were good officers and we'll miss them."

The new law, passed July 4 during a special council session, makes it a Class C misdemeanor for a city employee to participate or cooperate in any way with United Nations activities. Police Chief Pam Humphreys said Lambert is a member of the Utah National Guard and, like Adams, felt he could not enforce the city's anti-U.N. edict.

"I think it's tragic that two officers resigned over this ordinance," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday after reviewing the document. "I have no problem with the city making a statement, but I do have a concern when they impose a criminal penalty to it."

Shurtleff said his concerns included infringement on an individual's right to free speech, assembly and association, and equal protection under the law.

Shurtleff hopes the city council will reconsider its action.

Howard concedes the ordinance is flawed on one front.

"There is a valid concern among some city employees that they're being singled out," the mayor said. "It never was our intent to discriminate against city employees. We're going to fix that part at our next council meeting a week from Wednesday."

In the meantime, Howard said, he isn't worried about the declining numbers within the police department. The four part-time officers left will work extended hours until additional officers can be hired.


E-MAIL: nperkins@redrock.net