Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rocky's Holiday Edition Looks at a Local Sheriff

"You want to arrest somebody like you were arresting your own brother. Because in a small town, the person you arrest on Saturday just might be sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning."
-Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener

For holiday reading, there's an excellent profile of Sheriff Wegener in the Rocky Mountain Post. Wegener was pushed into the spotlight during the Bailey high school hostage situation, which ended in the molestation of some girls and the death of one along with her captor.

In "Small-town sheriff shines" Rocky writer James B. Meadow lets loose in a folksy discursive style, letting its informality soften the harsh memories of that sad day. Wegener made the decision to send in the SWAT team. During their assault, they could not kill the hostage taker before he fatally shot one of his victims.

The sheriff is understandably haunted by the outcome of his decision, but his character shines through in Meadow's account:
Wegener isn't talking about the election now. He is talking about meeting the president of the United States in October at a school safety conference in Washington. ("Holy smokes, talk about being out of your element.")

If newspapers had more of these local stories, perhaps they wouldn't be in such poor financial shape.

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