Brother Aaron Appelhans Appointed First Black Sheriff in Wyoming

Sheriff Appelhans


The phrase “Every Man a Man” has guided members of Lambda Chi Alpha for years, serving as a constant reminder that it is each Brother’s duty to meet others where they are. For Aaron Appelhans (University of Wyoming, ’03), this principle has led him on a journey from undergraduate member to his recent appointment as the first Black sheriff of Albany County in Laramie, Wyoming.

Lambda Chi immediately grabbed the attention of Appelhans in his undergraduate years because it was quite different from the other organizations that he had seen on campus. Intrigued, Appelhans decided to give the group a chance and fell in love with the emphasis the men placed on each person’s character rather than trying to meet a quota.

It was then that Appelhans learned his two favorite lessons from Lambda Chi that he has brought forward with him into his professional career. In addition to remembering “Every Man a Man”, Appelhans also latched onto the idea of “Naught Without Labor”. Using these principles, Appelhans finished his undergraduate career with a degree in civil engineering.

Following graduation, though, Appelhans made the ultimate decision that his future did not lie in the civil engineering field, so he took his next step and began his career at the University of Wyoming in the Office of Admissions.

While he loved his role and worked at it for just under eight years, he had the nagging feeling that something was missing. It was then that he was approached to consider a career in law enforcement.

Appelhans was incredibly adamant in his dislike of the legal system, but, at the time, the chief of the local police force saw a spark in Appelhans and thought he could make a real difference. As the chief put it to Appelhans, he could teach him how to use the tools and the ways of the law, but the passion was all Appelhans.

Still unsure, Appelhans told the chief he would consider it and see how his current job continued. But when new management was introduced, Appelhans knew it was time to move on.

He was then hired at the University of Wyoming’s police department and hit the ground running. Appelhans built the crime prevention program from scratch, which he led for the next three years.

Eventually, he was promoted to detective where he focused on all high-profile cases and felonies. From there, he continued to climb the ranks, serving as sergeant and taking on more and more responsibilities to help the station run smoothly.

Finally, Appelhans was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. The sheriff before him decided that he would not finish his term. Appelhans was encouraged to apply internally and was sworn in as sheriff in December of 2020.

With this great honor, though, comes great responsibility for Appelhans. Not only is he looking to help diversify the department to better reflect the community they serve, but he is also aiding in rewriting the script on how police officers interact with the public.

Because of this, Appelhans is working closely with outside community partners to start making educated decisions when it comes to figuring out what each individual requires.

As he continues his journey as sheriff, Appelhans aims to stay humble and work hard for those of his community and serve as an example of treating everyone with respect and kindness as a man of Lambda Chi.

“Each person is a person, they come from their own set of circumstances, and you just have to level with them, no matter what you’re doing.”