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Wyo. Sheriff Bars Deputies From Wearing Cowboy Boots, Hats


You know, in this world there are two kinds of people - those who wear cowboy boots and those who don't. In Wyoming, Sheriff Stephen Haskell has decided his deputies need to be ones who don't. NPR's Jasmine Garsd has the story.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: There's a new sheriff in town, and he doesn't care for your cowboy boots, at least not if you work for him. Sheriff Haskell, from Sublette County, Wyo., says his main goal was getting all of his staff to wear one single identifiable uniform - black trousers, a tan shirt, black boots and a black baseball cap. He says his ban on cowboy boots is more than just a fashion statement.

STEPHEN HASKELL: So we have a lot of snow. We have a lot of wind. We have, you know, moisture on the roads. But if you're in cowboy boots trying to help somebody on the side of the road or something like that, you're going to fall 9 times out of 10.

GARSD: Haskell also says cowboy hats can blow away in the wind. But for many people, Wyoming without cowboy gear is unthinkable. Bob Boze Bell is the executive editor of True West magazine about Western culture.

BOB BOZE BELL: Well, this is a town that's in the heart of the West, right outside of Yellowstone. It doesn't get any more iconic than that. And this is a country where cowboys have ruled for a long time.

GARSD: The news out of Sublette County did not sit well with him.

BELL: Well, here's the deal. The West is under assault from everywhere - mainly the East - by people who come out here and want to convert it into a, quote, "world class place." Well, we don't want to be a world class place. We're Westerners. We want it to be Western, and when you're Western, you wear cowboy boots and you wear cowboy hats. And that's just part of the deal.

HASKELL: Well, it turns into a safety problem.

GARSD: Sheriff Haskell disagrees.

HASKELL: The safety of cowboy boots on ice with leather soles in snow - it's not a good thing. You become part of the problem. You end up getting hurt.


NANCY SINATRA: (Singing) These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do...

GARSD: Nancy Sinatra clearly never had to give emergency roadside assistance in Wyoming in the peak of winter. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, Washington.


SINATRA: (Singing) These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are going to walk all over you. You keep playing where you shouldn't be playing. And you keep thinking that you'll never get burned. Ha, I've just found me a brand new box of matches... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.