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Primary features 5 hopefuls for Albany County sheriff

By Abby Vander Graaff Boomerang Writer

As the mid-term election season starts to ramp up, locals may start noticing political advertisements popping up around town, and one of the most closely watched Albany County races will be for sheriff.

Five candidates have filed to be the county's next top law enforcement official with Republican and Democrat hopefuls set for an Aug. 16 primary showdown.

They are, in alphabetical order:

Aaron Appelhans

Appelhans is the current Albany County sheriff, appointed to the office in 2020. He's running for his first full term as a Democrat. He's the first Black person to serve as a sheriff in Wyoming.

Appelhans also has 10 years experience working with the University of Wyoming Police Department.

Since being appointed sheriff, Appelhans said his top priorities have been to increase transparency, inclusivity and diversity in the Sheriff’s Office. He said that while the department has made progress in these areas, there’s still more work to be done.

“As much as we’ve accomplished, I don’t think I’m finished,” Appelhans said during an interview with the Boomerang.

The largest changes he made to the department so far have been a reimagining of recruitment practices and an overall change in culture, Appelhans said. He made it a point to recruit from traditionally underrepresented groups and has personally approved every new hire.

He also prioritizes working toward a community-based response system that includes collaborations with local mental health advocates and other community groups.

“Sometimes the (Albany County Detention Center) gets to be a catch-all for everybody, and that’s not necessarily a good thing,” Appelhans said. “The detention center is a temporary holding facility. It’s not a hospital, detox facility, substance abuse clinic or mental health clinic.”

Appelhans also said he wants to work toward increasing education and enforcement about traffic violations, especially those involving intoxication — something that has been on the rise in Albany County.

On transparency, Appelhans said he would be willing to consider forming an external complaints process for the Sheriff’s Office, but has some legal concerns about creating a civilian oversight board.

He said one of the favorite parts of his job is building collaborations between the Sheriff’s Office and the community and helping others. “It’s been a ton of work, but it’s all been for good,” he said.

Rafael Delgadillo

Delgadillo, who has about 30 years experience working in law enforcement in California, is running as a Republican, choosing to come out of retirement to pursue the position of Albany County Sheriff.

During his time in California, there were calls to defund and undermine the authority of police, Delgadillo said. He felt inspired to search for a place to live that better reflects his values, and he settled on Laramie, where he’s been for eight years.

Delgadillo has experience working at various level of law enforcement and has been a deputy sheriff and sergeant. Since moving to Wyoming, Delgadillo has been a precinct and state committeeman for the local Republican Party.

“This is my home,” Delgadillo said of Laramie. “I’ve made the commitment and this community is going to get the benefit of the experience I made elsewhere, here.”

Delgadillo was inspired to run for sheriff after hearing about past issues with use of force and case management.

“I realized that with the experience I have, I could actually improve that environment,” Delgadillo said. “In the environment I grew up in, police were always involved with the community.”

Not every problem requires a law enforcement solution, and the sheriff should work with mental health advocates and other community agencies, Delgadillo said. He believes that instilling values of collaboration and community involvement in deputies would result in a better department overall.

“The sheriff sets the tone for the department,” Delgadillo said. “I believe all people are equal before the law, and all police services are to be made without bias within the law.”

Delgadillo said he encourages direct conversation between law enforcement and residents. While he has concerns about how a civilian oversight board could impact employee privacy, he would be open to forming a group that involves law enforcement and community members.

“People have every civic responsibility to hold their police responsible and we have the responsibility to respond to that,” Delgadillo said.

Zeb Gladney

Gladney is running for sheriff as a Democrat. He works as a patrol deputy with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and has been with the department for about five years.

Gladney has lived in Laramie for most of his life and said running for sheriff is a way for him to be active in the community and gain campaign experience.

“I see myself being engaged and active in the community for a long time, and I thought this was a good way to share my thoughts with the community and get involved,” Gladney said.

His top priority for the office is to make it as transparent as possible. He expressed a desire to make the department’s services to the community the best they can be by hearing civilian concerns and responding to them effectively.

“I’ve seen this community question law enforcement,” Gladney said. “I would like to bring about absolute full transparency, and I’d like to see full involvement with law enforcement agencies.”

Gladney said he’d hold community forums at least once a month where people could meet with the sheriff and deputies and discuss issues they’re concerned about. He also would like to hold a biannual public meet-and-greet and continuously send out press releases as notable incidents happen.

“(I want to) bring issues to light so we as a community can discuss them, debate them and figure out possible avenues to approach,” Gladney said.

He’s also interested in the idea of an external complaints system for the department. He would be open to a civilian oversight board only if all of the members were fully trained on every aspect of a law enforcement job.

“I think no matter who is running each agency, things can always be better,” Gladney said. “There’s always room to reevaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing those things.”

Curtis Lee Moore

Moore, a Democrat, is a patrol sergeant at the Laramie Police Department. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Moore has been with LPD since he moved to Laramie in 2000. He said he’s is running for sheriff with hopes of continuing his career in public service and mentoring young law enforcement professionals.

Prior to the LPD, Moore worked for the Blacksburg Police Department in Virginia. He has experience with crisis intervention, verbal de-escalation, domestic violence and intoxicated driving arrests. His most valuable experience comes from real life situations, he said.

“I have communicated with citizens that have many different backgrounds and feel as though I can talk to anyone and put them at ease no matter their situation,” Moore said.

If elected, Moore’s primary goal would be to increase openness and transparency in the Sheriff’s Office. He also highlighted the importance of continued training.

Allowing the community to see what patrol and detention deputies do on a daily basis would be an important step toward transparency, he said. Inviting residents to trainings when appropriate and creating a ride-along program are avandergraaff residents to trainings when appropriate and creating a ride-along program are some of his ideas to increase this involvement.

“I believe it is paramount for folks to be informed with anything pertaining to safety and the well-being of them and their families,” Moore said. “I am a proponent of the ‘open door’ policy and would embrace the chance to talk to any citizens about their concerns.”

Moore declined to comment on what he would change about the Sheriff’s Office, saying he didn’t feel it was appropriate because he does not work there.

Moore is a self-proclaimed proponent of physical and mental wellbeing. He’s been running about 5 miles each day in a different neighborhood with a flag that reads “Moore 2022.”

Joel Senior

Senior is running for sheriff as a Republican and now works as a criminal investigator for the Wyoming Livestock Board, where he trains law enforcement officers to respond to agriculture and livestock-related issues and investigate violations.

Senior worked in the Laramie Police Department for 19 years prior to taking his post at the Livestock Board. During that time, he worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, school resource officer and detective.

His love for Albany County and his community relationship building experience is what inspired him to run for sheriff.

“My roots are in Albany County and I am looking forward to investing multiple terms as sheriff in order to make the Albany County Sheriff’s Office a welltrained, transparent and professional organization,” Senior said.

His primary goal is to increase professionality in the Sheriff’s Office and ensure the department is following the best practices of patrol and detention. If elected, he would start a strong recruiting and vetting process for new hires and provide ongoing training to all deputies. He also wants to encourage employees through a career track and compensation-based approach.

He also said he would review the procedures of the Albany County Detention Center to ensure the facility is operating above federal standards. He is exploring educational and spiritual programs for inmates and would work with community groups to decrease recidivism rates.

“With easy access to multiple social media platforms agencies no longer have an excuse for lack of transparency,” Senior said. “Information shared must be factual regardless of whether it shines a negative or positive light upon the agency or incident.”

Senior said he felt there is a lack of transparency in the Sheriff’s Office, which he would correct by holding monthly public debriefs on happenings within the department and allow the public to provide and document their feedback.

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