“Sheriffs were the law enforcement gods of the day in the west. So far as public opinion went, they were more than that. The sheriff who rose above the crowd had to be a man of more than ordinary intelligence, a fighter of unusual ability, an expert shot with any sort of weapon, a master horseman, a man of unquestioned bravery and thoroughly versed in the lore of the open country. In short, he had to be the epitome of all those qualities most necessary to become an outstanding figure in a pioneer region. And the sheriff was not the single link in the chain of law enforcement he is now. In those days, he was king of the law in his own jurisdiction. And Arapahoe County was the most important jurisdiction in the Rockies.”
- P. 112 Dave Cook of the Rockies 1936.
- 1855 –When Arapahoe County was created on August 25, 1855 by Kansas Territorial acting Governor Dan Woodson, he was also directed to appoint a sheriff, treasurer and a surveyor. This is the first known reference to an Arapahoe County sheriff. Due to a lack of records, it’s not known if the directions were ever acted upon.
- 1858 - First recorded Sheriff E.W. Wynkoop (Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory) E.W. Wynkoop arrived in the county in 1858 and was appointed by Governor James W. Denver of the Territory of Kansas to serve as sheriff. Unfortunately, the residents had their own ideas about how to run their settlements. They refused to recognize the newly created judicial system’s presumed author, the courts, or the sheriff. Wynkoop held the title of sheriff in the fall of 1858 through the spring of 1859 and then, off and on in 1860 and 1861. According to the Denver Inter-Ocean, he had a reputation as a “badman from Kansas who work buckskin breeches and carried a bowie knife and revolver in his belt.” Wynkoop allegedly would “never start a fight – but would never walk away from one either.” For a time between 1859 and 1860 there are TWO sets of officials, elected and/or appointed at the same time. One was for Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory, the other was for Arapahoe County, Jefferson Territory.
- 1859 – Daniel D. Cook (Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory) Served in the early days of 1859. Believed to have returned to Kansas.
- 1859 – William H. Middaugh (Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory) Was the earliest active sheriff in the county. He was murdered near Julesburg in 1862. Read about the sheriff’s pursuit of murderer James A. Gordon.
- 1861 – Richard Sopris (Arapahoe County, Colorado Territory)
- 1861 - Samuel Howe (Arapahoe County/Colorado Territory) In 1861, President James Buchanan created the Colorado Territory and appointed William Gilpin as governor. The first county seat was in Denver. The first county election for sheriff was held and Samuel Howe became the first elected sheriff. Also at this time, the sheriff’s office became the first county law enforcement agency in the Colorado Territory.
- 1864 - 1865 Robert S. Wilson -
He was called “Uncle Bob.” He only served half of his term. Later in life, he was a judge, an auctioneer and owned the Tremont House Hotel.
- 1865 Omer O. Kent -
He served out the remainder of Wilson’s term. But he lost the election to Richard Sopris in 1865. He was later a judge, a teacher and superintendent of Denver Public Schools.
- 1865 - 1869 Richard Sopris -
Sopris was elected to two terms. He later became a railroad builder, served as deputy sheriff for Sheriff Willoughby (1873-1878), and was elected mayor of Denver in 1878.
- 1869-1873 David J. Cook -
He moved to Colorado for gold with his brother at age 19. They also pursed and captured a murderer, who was back for trial and hanged. After sheriff, he joined the U.S. Army for the civil war. He was also city marshal of Denver from 1866-1869. He founded the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, which was similar to Pinkerton’s. Read a Tribute to Sheriff Cook. Learn about Deputy Frank Smith, Cook’s most trusted friend.
- 1873 – 1875 Edmond A. Willoughby
- 1875-1880 David J. Cook Served a second term as sheriff, as Colorado became a state on July 4, 1876. Cook later served as major general of the Colorado militia.
- 1880-1884 Michael Spangler -
Spangler was a banker before and after he served as sheriff. He appointed the first African American lawman in Colorado’s history, Deputy Henry O. Wagoner in 1880-1883.
- 1884 – 1886 George Graham
- 1886-1888 Frederick Cramer - He was sheriff when Deputy Hollingsworth was killed by Newt Force, who was then captured by Deputy John Chivington. Sheriff Cramer appointed William Barclay “Bat Masterson as a deputy, who served from 1886-1887.
- 1888 – 1890 Albert H. Weber
- 1890 – 1891 Elias A. Barton
- 1891-1896 William K. Burchinell -
He was the sheriff during the City Hall War of 1864. He purchased 50 Win. Mod. 1886 rifles engraved with “Arapahoe County.”
- 1896-1898 Elias H. Webb - He died in office.
- 1898-1900 William K. Burchinell - He was appointed sheriff by the county commissioners after Sheriff Web died in office.
- 1900 – 1902 Robert J. Jones
- 1902 - David D. Seerie - He was the last sheriff of Arapahoe County when Denver was a county seat. He lost his office due to the political changes, sued and lost. He owned the construction company Geddis and Seerie and built the Brown Palace and other building. He appointed the first female deputy, A.M. Quinn on April 12, 1902 as “Matron” of the jail.
- 1902 – 1907 Charles S. Gallagher
- 1907 – 1909 George E. Beach
- 1909 – 1911 Joseph A. Skerritt
- 1911 – 1915 George Kinkel
- 1915 – 1916 J.W. McBroom
- 1917 – 1921 Edward F. Burden
- 1921 – 1923 Robert G. McNamara
- 1923 -1925 John F. Bennett
- 1925 – 1933 John M. Haynes
- 1933 – 1943 Edward E. Monzingo - Sheriff Monzingo bought the first police radios and a Thompson Sub-Machine guns for deputies to carry.
- 1943 – 1963 Charles L. “Chick” Foster - Sheriff Foster grew his staff from three to 41. He created a 30-man posse. He also was the first to put police decals on cars, and get police cameras and uniforms. He also created the Investigations Division and formal training.
- 1963 – 1973 Roy R. Vogt - Sheriff Vogt created the Crime Lab and was the first sheriff to not live at the jail. He died in office.
- 1973 – 1975 Phil Baker
- 1975 – 1979 Arnold L. Miller - Sheriff Miller expanded the sheriff’s office, changed uniforms to the color maroon, and changed the color of the cars from solid blue to white with blue trim. He also put education requirements in place and started testing for promotion.
- 1979 – 1984 Ed D. Nelson
- 1984 - 2002 Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr. - In 2012, Sullivan was convicted in a drug case for having traded methamphetamine for sex.
- 2002 – 2014 J. Grayson Robinson
- 2014 – 2018 David C. Walcher
- 2018 - Present Tyler Brown -
Tyler Brown (Democrat) was elected sheriff in the general election on November 6, 2018. Read more about Sheriff Brown.
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