Fashion Before Duty: Cop Retires Rather Than Give Up His Cowboy Hat


In Pinedale, Wyoming, a tiny burg in the Western part of the Most Western State of Them All, a new sheriff has imposed a dress code unto his charges, in that he wishes them to no longer wear cowboy boots and hats while they’re on the clock. This was seen as such an extreme move, one police officer retired in protest. I applaud his commitment to personal style.

The AP reports that Deputy Gene Bryson retired after 28 years on the Pinedale force when Sheriff Stephen Haskell, new to the Sublette County PD, instilled a requirement that all cops must wear black boots and a black ball cap in lieu of the cowboy styles. Haskell said the change was for “safety and uniformity” although it seems like more of the latter, because he was displeased with the department’s sartorial presentation. “It looked like the Skittles platoon,” Haskell told the Casper Star-Tribune. “We had a rainbow of colors. Who the heck is who?”

He also noted the obvious practical issues that occur with cowboy boots in the snow (slippery) and cowboy hats in the wind (gusty), because Wyoming is obviously a paradise with the best weather the nation has ever seen. I can say that, I grew up there, it blows. New York shut down the subway system for three inches of snow; call me when you’ve trudged even one block through eight feet with a 40-below wind chill. (Not even exaggerating, actual thing I have done.) Now try doing that when you’re a cop trying to chase an armed robber, say, while wearing footwear that has literally no traction. These boots were not made for jogging or even walking, they were made for riding a damn horse and looking cute, you know?

Anyway! Deputy Gene Bryson, style devotee, heard about the Sheriff’s new dress code and was like eat shit, Haskell, I’m OUTTA here:

“That’s kind of the reason why I retired,” Bryson 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.’
“And 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.”
Bryson’s Old West look was popular in town, enough so that tourists and locals would constantly ask for pictures.
“That’s what looks good to me in the Sheriff’s Department,” Bryson said. “It’s Western. It’s Wyoming.”

So much here is funny to me: the way Bryson is so archetypically Wyoming, a rugged good ol’ boy set in his ways that taking off his cowboy hat is in itself a violation of the Wyomingness in his soul. (There are all sorts of untoward dirty jokes I could make here about things Wyoming dudes do in their cowboy boots and hats but you can imagine them yourself, also, p.s., why did my family let me hear that gross shit as a child.) Another funny thing is the concept that there are any tourists in Pinedale.

(Also, Sublette County has one of the highest meth rates in the state; there was an excellent New Yorker piece about it a few years back, in which writer Alexandra Fuller detailed the epidemic of gas-and-oil field workers using the drug to keep focused on their shifts.)

Now that Deputy Bryson is through defending his right to wear Western gear in the workplace, the Casper Star-Tribune reports that he is looking forward to spending more time with family and working at his gun shop in Marbleton, which is apparently called “Gene’s Guns’s.” Could this story get any more Wyoming! Bryson, I salute your fealty to your sartorial freedom!

Image via Digital Farmer/Shutterstock.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin