A new sheriff finally comes to town.
Sheriff Aaron Appelhans, appointed to Albany County, Wyoming, is the first Black sheriff in 131 years of Wyoming's statehood. Appelhans was one of three candidates considered to replace former Sheriff Dave O'Malley; he "retired" in the middle of his term after a complaint was filed against the county and the sheriff for "negligent and willful and wanton" misconduct in Robbie Ramirez's death.
Appelhans took office in December 2020. He steps into a police department during troubled times which includes allegations of nepotism, selective enforcement, and excessive force, according to The New York Times. Albany is also a county where the University of Wyoming resides and at times the diverse student population and ideologies clash with 131 years of a conservative statehood. But Appelhans is no stranger to this tension, he is a former UW student (civil engineering degree), UW admissions officer, and UW police, he knows the ins-and-outs of campus, county, and Wyoming life; nor does he wear any rose-colored glasses in his new appointment:
"I knew that whoever was going to get that position was going to have to have to address all of those issues and find solutions to them."
Wyoming's nickname is the "Equality State," noted for the state's charge to support women's rights to vote and to serve on a jury. Wyoming elected a suffragist to the legislature and the country's first female governor. Now, over 100 years later, the state has appointed the first Black sheriff.
“I get to be an example now for other people that look like me or come from similar backgrounds or come from underrepresented populations, that they can get into law enforcement and they can move their way up and they can effect change in their communities,” Appelhans said.
Appelhans grew up in Denver, Colorado. He will serve for the remaining two years and will be up for reelection in 2022.
Share your thoughts and send your congratulations to Sherriff Appelhans in the comments.