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Wyoming Deputy Retires Over Ban on Western Attire

February 02, 2015  | 

Dep. Gene Bryson of Sublette County, Wyo., is retiring partially because he can no longer wear his cowboy hat on the job. (Photo: Contributed)
Dep. Gene Bryson of Sublette County, Wyo., is retiring partially because he can no longer wear his cowboy hat on the job. (Photo: Contributed)

The new sheriff of a Wyoming county has banned his deputies from wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots, a change that led one longtime deputy to retire rather than give up his Western attire.

Stephen Haskell has been sheriff of Sublette County since Jan. 5. The county covers eight communities, including Pinedale, which True West magazine recently named one of its 2015 top 10 true Western towns.

The new uniform is black trousers, a tan shirt, black boots and a black ball cap. And you won’t see veteran deputy Gene Bryson wearing any of it.

“That’s kind of the reason why I retired,” Bryson, 70, said. “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.' I’ve had a cowboy hat on since 19-I-don’t-know,” Bryson said. “I’ve always worn a cowboy hat, all my life.”

“I’m very much for the Western way of life and the look. And that’s the way I dress,” Sheriff 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. We are one team unified in one purpose. That is to do our job.”

Bryson said he would’ve stayed if not for the rule change. But now that he’s retired, he’ll spend more time with his wife and grandchildren and at his gun shop in Marbleton.

Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

tbow426 @ 2/2/2015 2:50 PM

Yeah Sheriff, a "ball cap" with a uniform looks real professional. Guess you learned that in your three years. Reminds me of Paul Blart Mall Cop. There is an organization that is a heck of a lot bigger than your department that wears cowboy hats... Texas DPS Troopers, and I would not tell them it does not look professional.

kevCopAz @ 2/2/2015 5:07 PM

I tend to agree, there are many, if not most, of the Sheriff Departments in the US wear cowboy hats. This seems a tradition and for it to be discarded so simply is kinda sad. But gosh, don't you think that the deputy should have retired a few years ago? NO man that is 70 can perform the functions of an active police officer, sorry, thanks for your service but thats why there is a monitory retirement age in most police departments.

Exranger @ 2/2/2015 5:58 PM

Leaves me wondering what part of the east coast the new sheriff hails from? I always associated Wyoming with cowboys... like what is on their state auto license plates. Wonder if he would have gotten elected if he had revealed his plan to take away their western attire?

Hoshi @ 2/2/2015 6:09 PM

Come to Texas Brother

Capnyos @ 2/2/2015 6:14 PM

I agree tbow426. I would have expected more from a Wyoming sheriff. Not only DPS in Texas, but a whole lot of other departments too. I just retired after 33 years, now it's time to move back home to Texas.

Ted5555 @ 2/2/2015 7:12 PM

Typical management behavior. The book says you have to show an effect in the first 90 days. So you make a few meaningless symbolic changes that won't enhance police effectiveness but may be very discouraging to the men and women on front line who love certain traditions like the cowboy hat or western boots. I personally don't care for the Massachusetts State Patrol hats but they mean a lot to that team and I say "More Power to Them". Leaders are often tone deaf to nuance and detail. Way up at the strategic level of 30,000 feet it's hard to remember that ball caps suck at keeping the sun off your head and face.

XXXXX @ 2/3/2015 4:21 AM

Wow, 40-odd years in the Sheriff's office. Anybody that can last that long in this profession, in this political climate, should be able to wear any hat he/she wants. Thank you Deputy Bryson for your service. Have a fun, long retirement.

topcop2 @ 2/3/2015 5:01 AM

Looks like Deputy Bryson needs to read the book "Who Moved My Cheese". If you have read it you know what I am talking about. If you have not? You need to read it also. CEO's of big companies read this small book. Everyone should.

TX Lawman @ 2/3/2015 6:19 AM

Ft Worth PD still wears cowboy hats and I think they look very professional. And as tbow426 said, so does DPS Texas. A lot of agencies in Texas wear cowboy hats. A ball cap makes you look like a security guard in my opinion. Thank you for you 40+ years Deputy Gene Bryson

john @ 2/3/2015 6:57 AM

Even the 4000+ NYSP Troopers all wear cowboy Stetson hats. And I wouldn't consider NY a part of the old west!

Breeze101 @ 2/3/2015 2:30 PM

A new Sheriff in CO got sworn in and one of the first things he did was basically fire the Mounted Posse that has a 50 year history in the county! The all volunteer unit has to re-apply. Some of the senior members are taking the same road as deputy Bryson. Have a great retirement and don't darken the door of the Sheriff's office ever again!

Stan @ 2/3/2015 5:57 PM

Enjoy retirement Deputy Bryson. I have 2955 days until I take that path.

Last week, my unit was just talking about changing from ball caps to cowboy hats.

And even with a Doctorate in Business, I do not recommend anyone reading "Who Moved My Cheese". The moral of the story is to make change just to make change. Sounds like an election campaign.

Dave Sandborn @ 2/3/2015 6:08 PM

It is clear that the new boss is a stupid, arrogant, autocratic, poorly-thinking, self-indulgent, piece of garbage. How else to explain such an asinine edict, obviously issued without ever bothering to consult the actual officers.

Jim B. @ 2/4/2015 8:12 AM

Really Dave Sandborn? Over react much?

I'm all for a little hyperbole but that is a pretty scathing indictment of a person based on pretty short article. Take a deep breath my friend, it'll be OK.

Ima Leprechaun @ 2/4/2015 12:10 PM

Whatever the uniform is that is what the person should wear. Myself I can't wear cowboy costumes but if someone wants to I don't really care. I think as long as it identifies the job and is comfortable then whatever works. At least he had more than enough time in to retire. He could if he so desired now run for the Sheriff's job and change it all back.

David Salvas @ 6/16/2015 4:31 PM

I Agree that no one should do away with the Western Wear and The original fur cowboy hats it is part of our history and should Kept up as the history of the West and our cowboy's and should never be forgotten and should remain for ever and never be forgottenA lot of people wear the fur cowboy hats and clothes like MeProud of our cowboy's

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