After 28 years working as a Deputy in Wyoming’s Sublette County, Gene Bryson retired from law enforcement because of a new dress code. Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell implemented the new dress code after he took over as sheriff.
The new code bans deputies from wearing cowboy hats and boots, even though Haskell admitted that he likes to dress in the western style. Deputies now must wear black pants and boots, a tan shirt and a black cap. Haskell told the Casper Star-Tribune, “'I'm very much for the Western way of life and the look. And that's the way I dress.” He continued, “However, for a professional outfit . . . I like everybody to look the same. We are one team unified in one purpose. That is to do our job.”
Deputy Gene Bryson, 70, felt the change was extreme enough to warrant retiring. He has worked 40 years in law enforcement and has worn a brown cowboy hat, brown cowboy boots and a leather or wool vest, depending on the season. Bryson told the 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.'”
Haskell, 53, has only worked in law enforcement for three years but feels the change is necessary to ensure the safety of his deputies. In his reasoning he included that cowboy boots can be slippery on ice and cowboy hats can easily blow away in the wind. He said, “I’d rather my deputies were concerned with their safety and the safety of the public than trying to chase down a fly-away cowboy hat.”
Bryson told the newspaper, “And I've had a cowboy hat on since 19. That's what looks good to me in the sheriff's department. It’s Western. It's Wyoming.” Tourists often asked for photographs with the sheriff because of his authentic western look.
Although he enjoyed his time in law enforcement, he said he will have more time to spend with his family and be able to work full time in his gun shop.
True West recently named Pinedale, which is in Sublette County, as a top ten true Western town.