5 Questions With: John Grossnickle, Sweetwater County Sheriff

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John Grossnickle, Sweetwater County Sheriff

SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (July 12, 2020) — In today’s edition of 5 Questions With…, Wyo4News talks with John Grossnickle, Sweetwater County Sheriff.

Grossnickle is a lifelong resident of Wyoming. He started his law enforcement career with the Rock Springs Police Department in January of 1996. After a little over a year, Grossnickle decided to apply for the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office. He has been employed with Sweetwater County for over 23 years. While at the Sheriff’s Office, Grossnickle has worked in multiple capacities including patrol, court security, detectives, sergeant, and lieutenant. Grossnickle was elected Sheriff in 2018, which is the biggest honor he has garnered in his career.

He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Chadron State College and a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration from Columbia College. While at Chadron State College, he was a multiple NCAA letter winner in track and field.

Grossnickle is the current president of the Wyoming Peace Officers Association and he is currently on the Executive Board for the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. Additionally, he is also on the Executive Board for the United Way of Southwest Wyoming. Grossnickle has also has been a football official for the Wyoming High School Activities Association for 23 years.

In his spare time, Grossnickle enjoys outdoor activities with his family. His family are avid fishermen and hunters, especially waterfowl and upland bird hunting. Grossnickle’s family also enjoys playing golf when the time allows.

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Wyo4News 5 Questions

1. How have day-to-day operations changed for the Sheriff’s Office in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the recent events in Minneapolis?

It’s interesting, but not much has changed in our day-to-day operations during the pandemic. It’s probably a strange experience compared to others because when the world shut down, we still came to work every day.

As for the events in Minneapolis, we’re angry too. I haven’t heard anyone argue that what those officers did is anything less than heinous. I commend the police chief for taking decisive and necessary action by immediately terminating all four officers involved, and I strongly support that they are each prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We are so fortunate to live and work where we do. People here recognize that this is not Minneapolis and that the wrongful actions of a few are not representative of our Sheriff’s Office, nor of the way we do business in this place we all call home. If anything, we have enjoyed an outpouring of love and support from people all across our community since the incident in Minneapolis. I have little doubt that the Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement in Sweetwater County has an unparalleled level of support that is uncommon in many other places across this country. Our dedicated men and women recognize this and we are all thankful for our community’s support.

 

2. What are your thoughts on how your officers have responded during these very new and trying times?

Law enforcement officers are some of the most resilient people on the planet. The job requires it, and our deputies are no exception. I think our staff has done a great job navigating the drama and uncertainty. I thank them all for what they do, and I am proud to serve alongside each and every one of them. I would also like to remind them to keep their heads held high and know that our community is behind them.

 

3. How do you go about your recruiting process for prospective officers to ensure you have the highest-level officers on the streets?

Our recruitment and hiring process is comprehensive and includes a physical fitness test, oral interview, background investigation, psychological evaluation, medical evaluation, and polygraph examination. If we are considering hiring someone laterally from another law enforcement agency, we also review their personnel file from their current agency whenever possible.

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4. What work are you doing to help keep the mental health and morale high for your officers after facing dangerous situations?

In addition to the recruitment and hiring process, taking care of our deputies’ mental health and well-being is an equally critical component in ensuring that we maintain the highest caliber of service to the public.

When I was elected, one of the first things we did as an administration was to restructure from the top down to make sure our deputies, particularly our first-line supervisors who manage day-to-day operations, are compensated commensurate to their duties. We eliminated three captain positions so we could promote our first-line patrol supervisors to the rank of sergeant.

I am also passionate about taking care of our deputies’ mental health and wellbeing. It is not often talked about, but more officers die by suicide every year than in the line of duty.  This job is dangerous enough as it is. Not only must are deputies be of strong moral character and physically fit, but they also must be at peace spiritually and mentally. One of the tools we have implemented since I took office to help with this is our peer support team. A peer support team is basically a group of specially trained and clinically supervised officers and deputies who other officers and deputies can speak to in confidence about cop work and cop life.

 

5. What is some advice you can give to Sweetwater County residents as more people are spending time outside and traveling more frequently?

I am a firm believer in individual rights. With that being said, I encourage everyone to be diligent in following all of the safety recommendations set forth by the CDC, with regard to maintaining the wellbeing of everyone. Additionally, I remind everyone to maintain all the requirements of the law and suggestions set forth by law enforcement with regard to maintaining personal safety. I want everyone to enjoy the outdoors and travel as we all want some sort of normalcy again.

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