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True to the West

Stephen Haskell, who just took over as sheriff in Sublette County, Wyo., has issued a firm order: deputies may no longer wear cowboy hats. No cowboy boots, either. “I had my patrol deputies wearing one uniform, [and] I had detention wearing another uniform,” said Haskell, a Wyoming native. “It looked like the Skittles platoon. We had a rainbow of colors. Who the heck is who?” Some deputies were even wearing polo shirts, he said. “In Wyoming, you don’t even see working cowboys wearing cowboy hats in the winter,” says sheriff Sgt. Katherine Peterson. “It’s too cold.” Pinedale, the county seat, was recently named one of the nation’s Top 10 “true Western” towns by True West magazine, so locals are aghast, right? Wrong. The department has received no complaints from locals, but plenty of uproar from out of state. “I hate this,” complains Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of True West magazine. “It’s just one more strike against the uniqueness of the American West,” he grumped. “I don’t go to New York City and tell police there they can’t wear blue uniforms. Let us wear cowboy hats.” Bell, and True West, are based in Arizona. Bell was born in Iowa. (RC/Los Angeles Times) ...Bell is right: real westerners should lift a finger to wanna-be westerners telling us what to wear.
Original Publication Date: 08 February 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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