Finishing a second storied career

A smile is always better than a grimace’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 4/26/24

TORRINGTON – There is something to be said about an individual choosing to enter not just one career but two. It says even more when both careers are about devotion and service to something …

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Finishing a second storied career

A smile is always better than a grimace’


TORRINGTON – There is something to be said about an individual choosing to enter not just one career but two. It says even more when both careers are about devotion and service to something higher than one’s own self.

Lieutenant Wes Deen of the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office has been a familiar face in Goshen County now for nearly twenty years. Through years of perseverance, building trust and respect, and infinite patience in residents making the occasional slip-up; no doubt the Lieutenant has made a lasting impression on the very county he has served so genuinely for nearly 20 years.

With this, lieutenant Deen has officially announced his plans for retirement at the end of April.

It should be noted although Deen has become a bona fide trustworthy resident and officer within the county, it is always the right thing to do to acknowledge where the story started.  

Although Deen did not enter law enforcement until 2004 at the age of 42, his prior career did not differentiate much as far as discipline, responsibility, and maintaining a level head in incredibly stressful situations.

“I joined the Navy in 1980, and basically did a 24-year career until I retired in ‘04,” Deen began. “My wife was from Torrington and her parents lived here, and we said okay let’s move. So we got a house and I started applying for jobs out here.”

After a storied two-and-a-half decades with the United States Navy, Deen knew he was ready for a change but did not want to settle for only a job. In his mind, he knew he was ready to utilize everything he had learned in the military for not only a second chapter but possibly a second career.

At the time, the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office was in need of some extra help.

“I was a chief officer in the Navy so I was used to being a boss, but I didn’t want to be the boss anymore,” Deen continued. “So I was fine with being a deputy, and with that, I spent three years in detention. In a few years, a sergeant position opened. So applied for it and became a sergeant. I spent two years as a sergeant in detention, and then a patrol position opened up in ’07. Once again I went ahead and applied for it, and got the position to go out on patrol.”

According to Deen, starting a career in law enforcement at a more developed age had both its pros and cons. When it came to having a mature, solid mindset in order to do a potentially dangerous job, a 42-year-old “rookie” with military experience was not a negative thing.

“It helped me that I was 42,” Deen continued. “When you are younger you are headstrong where everything is written. When I moved here in ‘04, jobs were scarce and I knew law enforcement was a career. I had just gotten done with one career, and another career sounded good; something as paramilitary. When I was in the military it’s a family, especially when you are out at sea for six months. This is similar to that. There’s a lot of gray in the world. Yes, we have all these laws on the books, yet at the same time, we can’t just go black and white. You have to find out what the whole story is.”

From a physical standpoint, however, Deen found despite the challenges he still had what it took to keep up with youngsters at the academy.  

“Going to the academy at 42 was rough, and then going back at 45 was even rougher,” Deen laughed. “Hitting the mat eight hours a day and trying to not get your arm pulled out from arm bars was a good experience. After the academy, they put me on patrol, and I spent I don’t know how many years on nights. A position opened for day shifts later, and I took the day shift. That was a little easier for a 49-year-old, working days rather than nights.”

As the years progressed, Deen found his new career had not just produced a decent livelihood in post-military life. Far beyond this, Deen found again a second family where bonds and relationships have the potential to last a lifetime.

“There’s been a lot of fun stuff that has been very rewarding,” Deen said. “Yes I’ve been on some high-speed chases and had to get the bad guys to stop, but you get a bond when you are in law enforcement. You’ve got the state patrol, Wyoming Highway Patrol, the city guys, us and we will always have each other’s backs no matter what. You may not always like each other but we always have each other’s back. The sheriff’s office itself has always been more like a family, and it’s for me a very tight-knit group. It’s a small group and I wish we had more, but also the fact that I’ve worked for a lot of great sheriffs including Murphy and Wardell. Fleenor has been nothing but excellent as far as being the boss. Kory is probably one of the better ones I’ve had either here or in the Navy.”

Lieutenant Deen made a point to take a sincere approach when talking about his fellow police officers, especially in recent years when issues such as police brutality became a source of national concern or even outrage.

According to Deen, issues as such are isolated and do not represent a fair and accurate portrayal of everyday law enforcement officers.

Particularly in Goshen County.

“I think with everything happening the last few years with Defund the Police and all the other stuff going on, it’s not as much an attractive career as it used to be,” Deen said. “Which is very sad because we need law enforcement. But you know, just getting to know everyone here and just having a second family are truthfully the biggest positives. You get to help people, and you get to help them almost every day. But it’s the one time you can help someone really get out of a tough situation, and you see them a few years later and can tell yourself you saved someone’s life.”

While in the process of cleaning out his office, still filled with remnants of professional and personal memories over the past 20 years; Deen expressed feelings of excitement and melancholy in heading into a new chapter for himself.

As the former Navy Sailor and soft-spoken retiring Sheriff Lieutenant put it so candidly, the passion for his work and people will always be close to his heart. So close in fact, Deen has one departing wish for his fellow officers who will still be keeping their Oath in years to come.

“I am all about getting these guys in the sheriff’s office up to speed with the pay,” Deen said. “I know it will help. Like I said we’ve had probably seven deputy positions open for over two years now. With that being said we are always covering. Guys come in on their days off covering shifts and working overtime. I don’t want a raise for me, but I want one for the guys. It’s a very good job with a high set of standards and morals and comes with a good feeling of helping people. At the base of everything, if you can make more money doing the same type of stuff why would you not?”

“I’m definitely going to miss the comradery,” Deen continued. “Morning coffee and getting ready for the work day. Talking to the guys and seeing where they’re at. I’m even going to miss some of the problems. Sometimes if there was ever a problem I’d say, ‘Give it to me.’ I’ll miss just being needed. That is what’s so great about a small community. You can see and understand who just made a mistake. And if people would just be good to each other and not do things to hurt each other or the community; if we could do that and be good to people it will reciprocate back. Maybe not right away, but it will eventually. A smile is always better than a grimace.”