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Head of agency that seized FLDS children to retire

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Carey Cockerell

Carey Cockerell

The head of the Texas department that removed about 440 FLDS children from their homes has announced he is retiring.

Carey Cockerell, the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, will retire Aug. 31. Cockerell and Child Protective Services, a branch of DFPS, have been strongly criticized for the April raid at the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.

The 3rd Court of Appeals and later the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the children were improperly removed from their families, and the children have since been

returned. CPS officials say they're continuing to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect at the ranch.

His retirement is not likely linked to the raid, however. On April 30, Cockerell presented a report on the FLDS case and his agency to a Senate committee in Austin. During that hearing, he indicated he was planning to retire soon.

In a news release, Cockerell said he'd been thinking about retirement since late last year. "I'll soon be a grandfather, and I'm looking forward to a lot of quality time with my family after four decades of working in state and local programs," he said.

Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, told The Associated Press that Cockerell was not asked to resign.

"At a time when there were reports of cases being closed too quickly and children and the elderly being left in dangerous conditions, Carey helped our state refocus protective services to its vital mission — protecting Texas' most vulnerable," Perry said. "I thank him for his tireless service and effective leadership and wish him well in his future ventures."

Cockerell has served at the Texas agency since 2005. The release listed many accomplishments during Cockerell's term but did not mention the very high-profile raid of the polygamous sect — an action that resulted in the largest child custody case in U.S. history.

The cost for the roundup of children has cost the state more than $14 million. That amount is expected to increase as criminal investigations continue.

E-mail: bwest@desnews.com