History of Weld County Sheriff
On February 28, 1861, President James Buchanan signed An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado, commonly known as the Colorado Organic Act, creating the Territory of Colorado. This act provided the US President authority to appoint a Territorial Governor and Secretary.
Weld County was formed on September 9, 1861, when the Territorial Assembly created the original seventeen counties. Its boundaries approximately 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 December 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 election on October 7, 1862. Then, as the county was organizing and need for law enforcement grew, Sheriff Paul appointed Jay Thomas as the first recorded Deputy Sheriff on October 9, 1863.
As with all change, boom/bust, and growth in Colorado, counties began splitting off from Weld starting with Washington - February 9, 1887; Morgan– February 19, 1887; Logan - February 25, 1887; and Yuma on March 15, 1889. Two counties split from Logan in 1889; Phillips – March 27 and Sedgwick – April 9 and 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 encompasses approximately 4000 square miles today and is still one of the largest counties in the State. Growth of the Sherriff’s Office has been constant through the years and Sheriff Steve Reams is the 39th Sheriff of Weld County serving his first term in Office.
The Weld Sheriffs duties are established by Colorado Statutes and the Weld County Home Rule Charter (1976) and include, but are not limited to, maintenance of a county jail, service and execution of all processes, writs, precepts, and orders of the County and District Courts or presented for service by citizens pursuant to civil procedure, transportation of prisoners, security of the courthouse, search and rescue, control of grassland fires, 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 boundaries.
The Sheriff's Office today has changed dramatically since its formation in 1861. Today our budget exceeds 36 million dollars, and employs nearly 400 professionals. Today deputies, corrections officers, and professional staff perform functions from investigation 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 in and the Sheriff's Office will continue to be an integral partner with the County and leader in law enforcement throughout Colorado. Whether riding horses or responding to calls for service utilizing a real-time crime center, Weld County Sheriff’s Office will be there to meet the public’s need today and into the future.