On Feb. 28, 1861, President James Buchanan signed an act, commonly known as the Colorado Organic Act, to provide a temporary government for the newly created Territory of Colorado. The act provided President Buchanan the authority to appoint a Territorial Governor and Secretary. Weld County was formed on Sept. 9, 1861 when the Territorial Assembly created the original seventeen counties. Its boundaries coincided with the previous boundaries of St. Vrain County, Jefferson Territory.
The county seat was placed at the town of St. Vrain, which was abandoned by the 1880s. The Territorial Assembly appointed the first, temporary county commissioners and charged them with conducting the first Territorial Election on Dec. 2, 1861. It was in this election that Weld County's first Sheriff, John Paul, was elected. Sheriff Paul was re-elected to a second term on Oct. 7, 1862. Then, as the county was organizing and a need for law enforcement grew, Sheriff Paul appointed Jay Thomas as the first recorded deputy sheriff on Oct. 9, 1863.
As with all change, boom and bust cycles, and growth in Colorado, counties began splitting off from Weld starting with Washington on Feb. 9, 1887, followed by Morgan on Feb. 19, 1887, Logan on Feb. 25, 1887, and Yuma on March 15, 1889. Two counties would later split from Logan in 1889, creating Phillips County on March 27 and Sedgwick County on April 9 of that year. Washington and Yuma counties added territory from Adams and Arapahoe counties on April 10, 1903.
The last to separate from Weld County was Broomfield. Incorporated as a municipality in southeast Boulder County, Broomfield eventually grew into Weld, Adams and Jefferson counties. There are currently 64 counties in the State of Colorado, and each has a sheriff.
Weld County is the third largest county in the state of Colorado, encompassing 4,017 square miles. It's almost four times larger than the state of Rhode Island and more than double the size of Delaware. It is about 800 square miles smaller than Connecticut.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams is the 39th Sheriff of Weld County serving his second term in office. He manages an agency of more than 450 employees, which is comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel in the Detentions and Patrol divisions, as well as non-sworn civilian staff.
The Weld County Sheriff's duties are established by Colorado Statutes and the Weld County Home Rule Charter (1976) and include, but are not limited to, maintenance of the Weld County Jail, service and execution of all civil processes including writs, precepts and orders of the Weld County and Weld District courts, transportation of prisoners, security of the courthouse, search and rescue, and the investigation of crimes or breech of the peace. Some of these duties are confined to areas outside incorporated fire districts while other duties include the entire county and its citizens without regard to political subdivision or boundaries.
The Weld County Sheriff's Office has changed dramatically since its formation in 1861. Today, its budget exceeds 36 million dollars. Deputies and professional staff perform functions from investigations to inmate oversight, to criminological research with several categories in between. The professionalism of our staff speaks volumes about the commitment of the deputies not only to law enforcement, but to the community they live. The sheriff's office will continue to be an integral partner with the county and serve as a leader in law enforcement throughout Colorado. Whether riding horses or responding to calls for service utilizing a real-time crime center, the Weld County Sheriff's Office will be there to meet the public's need today and into the future.