An officer with a wealth of experience and varied career is the new school resource officer for the Lovell school system.
Kurt Dobbs, who went to school in Deaver, worked for years in Powell and rose to become Wyoming’s top law enforcement officer, will take the reins from Randy Davis, who is signing on with the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
Dobbs, 46, the son of Bill and Elaine Dobbs, grew up in Laramie and the Deaver area, living and working on the family ranch, attending junior high and high school in Deaver and graduating as a member of the final class at Deaver-Frannie High School in 1983.
He then enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving four years of active duty and two more years in the active reserves. He served with the 10th Special Forces in Germany and rose to the rank of Specialist E-4. While in the reserves he lived in Gillette, where he worked for Ireco Explosives as an explosives expert.
Dobbs joined the Powell Police Dept. in 1990, working as a patrol officer for Chief John Cox at first and eventually specializing in and finding success in drug investigation. That record of success caught the eye of the Division of Criminal Investigation in Cheyenne, and DCI chose Dobbs for a special task force working drug investigations for a new Northwest Wyoming field office that opened in 1993, serving the Big Horn Basin and Fremont County.
The Northwest Enforcement Team was funded with federal, state and local monies and gave Dobbs the opportunity to receive training and gain experience all over the state that he never could have received as a local officer, he said, investigating drug cases and large crimes to assist local departments.
In 1997 Dobbs was named a sergeant with the Powell PD in charge of all investigations, and when Cox moved to Cheyenne as colonel of the Wyoming Highway Patrol in 1998, Dobbs went to work for DCI full time as one of two head agents for the Powell Field Office.
In 2003 Gov. Dave Freudenthal appointed Dobbs as the director of the Wyoming DCI, and he and his wife, LaRae, moved to Cheyenne. During his time in Cheyenne, he got to know Gov. Matt Mead, then an assistant U.S. Attorney and later the U.S. Attorney for Wyoming.
Dobbs “retired” from DCI and law enforcement in April of 2006 and went to work for Mead Land and Livestock, returning to his agricultural roots and running farm and ranch operations in Goshen and Albany Counties. He also worked for the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office as a police practices expert for Federal District Court cases, testifying as an expert witness.
Lately, before taking the job in Lovell, Dobbs worked from 2010 through January of 2012 for the U.S. Dept. of Defense during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) as an agent for the DOD embedding in Army and Marines units to detect, disrupt and neutralize Taliban and al Qaeda kidnapping and assassination rings. He worked with Army Special Forces and Marine Special Operations Command.
During that two-year period, which kept him away from his family for extended periods of time, LaRae (Bridges) Dobbs returned to her home country and eventually resumed work with the Park County Attorney’s Office, for whom she had worked before moving to Cheyenne. She and Kurt also bought a home in Cowley.
“I was looking at another seven months in Afghanistan, and I thought I had been away from home long enough,” Dobbs said. “I heard about the SRO position coming up, so I called Nick. I thought I’d like to do that and applied for the job.”
He interviewed with Chief Lewis, Supt. of Schools Dan Coe and building principals, was offered the job and started work on Feb. 1, working closely with current SRO Davis.
Dobbs said he is looking forward to working in the schools and also helping Lewis to complete some projects.
“I like working with kids and want to help mentor officers and do some investigations on the side,” he said. “For me it’s kind of a win-win. It makes it nice for me. I’ve been on the fast track my whole life. Now, I’m not looking forward to moving to another department. I hope I can sit here and help these guys. He (Lewis) truly does know where it (the department) needs to go.”
Dobbs and Lewis agree that Dobbs’ wide variety of experience can help bring the LPD’s evidence system up to current standards, update the department’s policies and procedures and mentor and train officers in areas like report writing and investigation.
“I told him this is what I want him to do,” Lewis said. “We need to clean up evidence handling and processing. He’s handled lots of evidence. He’s helped revamp policies and procedures for DCI and Powell. We need to update our policies and procedures manual using model policies that we can revise to fit our needs.”
As for his SRO duties, Lewis said Dobbs’ experience will also be an advantage.
“I think he has a good presence. The kids and staff know he knows what he’s doing,” Lewis said. “He has a real desire to help the kids. He could get a job anywhere in the area. That speaks volumes that he wants to help kids. He can make a difference in kids’ lives.
“He is going to really help our department in lots of ways. I’m excited. I think this is going to be a good fit.”
Dobbs said he has enjoyed working side by side with Davis, who he said has built a fine reputation as the SRO.
“If I can do as good a job as he does, I’ll be doing well,” he said. “I’ve talked to teachers, administrators and students, and I can’t see anything that needs improvement. He’s spot on and is running a good program.
“I’ll step right into the legacy that he’s built. He’s done fantastic.”
Kurt and LaRae Dobbs have three grown daughters, Laureena Houchin of Wheatland, Miriah Griffin of Salt Lake City and Cheyenne Dobbs of Powell.
By David Peck