Head of Texas agency in polygamist raid retiring - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Head of Texas agency in polygamist raid retiring

AUSTIN (AP) - The head of the Texas agency that removed more than 400 children in the since-discredited raid of a polygamist group is retiring.

Carey Cockerell is commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, which has come under withering criticism for the April raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.

The Texas Supreme Court later ruled the children were improperly separated from their families. The agency's sweeping action in the custody case raised concerns among civil liberties groups.

State officials announced his retirement in a news release posted Friday on the Health and Human Services agency Web site. No reason for his retirement was given.

The two-page announcement detailed agency improvements under his watch but didn't mention the raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon group that practices polygamy.

The announcement said Cockerell had been thinking of retiring since last year. He will step down Aug. 31 after serving the agency since 2005.

"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," Cockerell said.

Agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said Cockerell would not have further comment.

The announcement included statements of support from Gov. Rick Perry and Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins, who oversees Cockerell's agency.

Perry spokesman Allison Castle said Cockerell was not asked to resign.

"For many years, Commissioner Cockerell has dedicated himself to protecting those who cannot protect themselves," Perry said in the statement. "I thank him for his tireless service and effective leadership."

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