Veteran deputy not giving up cowboy hat and boots; retires over new uniform rules

There’s a new sheriff in town and he has banned his cops from wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats, a move that caused one longtime deputy to retire.

Stephen Haskell, the new sheriff of Sublette County, Wyo., issued an edict to change the dress code for his force the same month that True West magazine named the county seat of Pinedale one of the top 10 “true western” towns for 2015.

Gene Bryson
Photo credit Sublette County Sheriff’s Department.

Haskell’s decision didn’t sit well with Deputy Gene Bryson, who retired Friday after serving 28 years on the force, and 40 total in law enforcement, because he didn’t like the uniform change.

“That’s kind of the reason why I retired,” Bryson told the Casper Star Tribune. “I am not going to change. I’ve been here for 40-odd years in the sheriff’s office, and I’m not going to go out and buy combat boots and throw my vest and hat away and say, ‘This is the new me.’

“That’s not going to work.”

Gene Bryson

Bryson was born and bred on a Montana ranch and worked on ranches in Wyoming and Colorado.

“I’ve had a cowboy hat on since 19-I-don’t-know. I’ve always worn a cowboy hat, all my life,” Bryson said.

Haskell said he sees the change as a positive.

“I had my patrol deputies wearing one uniform, I had detention wearing another uniform. It looked like the Skittles platoon,” Haskell told the Tribune. “We had a rainbow of colors. Who the heck is who?”

Gene Bryson
Photo credit Sublette County Sheriff’s Department.

Despite the change, Haskell said he has nothing against western attire.

“I’m very much for the western way of life and the look. And that’s the way I dress,” Haskell said. “However, for a professional outfit, and this also goes for my 25 years in the Marine Corps, I like everybody to look the same.”

As for Bryson, he plans on spending more time with his grand children and running his gun shop.

It makes you wonder what Andy Griffith and Barney Fife would have thought of this problem.


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