Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken Is One Of The Youngest Sheriffs In Wyoming History

It was a hunting trip that hooked Alex Bakken on the Rocky Mountain West. So right out of college he moved to Wyoming and got into law enforcement. 10 years later, he became Carbon County's sheriff -- one of the youngest ever -- and says he'll never leave Wyoming.

Jen Kocher

March 04, 20244 min read

Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken.
Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken. (Courtesy Photo)

Alex Bakken fumbled with his office phone, trying to answer before it went to voicemail. He called back apologetically to say he had a mangled finger from a recent snowmobile accident that was making it hard to push the buttons.

His hand got caught up in a snowmobile ski that weekend, the Carbon County Sheriff explained, and he has some lingering nerve and tendon damage as a result.

“Nothing too crazy,” he said.

Both the injury and laid-back attitude say a lot about the passions that drive Bakken: A love of adventure and the outdoors.

In fact, it was an elk hunt in Colorado following college that initially brought Bakken west. He fell in love with the area, and knew he wanted to live here.

“I fell in love with the mountains and applied for jobs out west,” he said.

He’d just graduated in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin in Superior with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and criminal justice.

Initially, his plan as a young man was to go to law school, but after four years of college, he decided he’d had enough. He then decided he wanted a career in law enforcement where he could balance work with his true love: hunting.

“I’m a pretty simple guy,” he said.

When he was offered a position at the men’s maximum-security prison in Rawlins, Bakken packed up a U-Haul trailer and his pickup and moved to Wyoming sight unseen at age 21 with $1,000 bucks in his pocket and dreams of future hunts.

From there, he’s never looked back and said he can’t imagine ever leaving Carbon County, where he’s found the perfect life-work balance hunting, adventuring and protecting the public as one of the youngest sheriffs in state history at age 33 (he was 32 when elected).

Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken.
Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken. (Courtesy Photo)

Young Guns

Admittedly, in his role as sheriff since being elected in 2022, he spends more time than he’d care to behind a desk in his role as administrator.

Running for sheriff hadn’t necessarily been one of his goals, Bakken said, but he decided to throw his hat in the ring because he didn’t always agree with the direction the department was going.

Rather than throw in the towel on the profession he otherwise loved, he decided to run for office.

“I’ve always been a believer before you quit something, you should try to change it for the better,” he said. “But I certainly do not enjoy politics.”

He’s definitely not an extrovert, he said, and found running for public office pretty difficult, though he’s happy he did.

Bakken said he’s always felt an affinity for law enforcement. He started his career at age 21 working in the prison. He did that for about four years before taking a position with the Carbon County Sherriff’s Office as a correctional officer in the detention center.

From there, he transferred to the patrol division as a deputy.

As cliché as it might sound, he said, he genuinely likes helping people. As for his time working in the prison, he said “people are people.”

The trick is treating them with respect, he said, no matter what crimes they might have committed or what events landed them in that position.

New Initiatives

And though he doesn’t relish all the time spent in an office behind a desk, he’s nonetheless implemented some much-needed policies and procedures, he said.

Those include beefing up school security by putting sheriff deputies in both of Carbon County’s school districts to serve with existing police officers.

“It was nice to get that enacted in both our districts,” he said. “That was something we were all pretty proud of here.”

He’s also grown the county’s search and rescue efforts, given its location as one of the country’s prime snowmobile and outdoor adventure destinations.

Bakken, who is also on the volunteer search and rescue team that is overseen by the sheriff’s office, was able to apply for grants and get donations to buy snowmobiles and track vehicle side-by-sides to assist with search and rescue efforts.

“This helps us better access some of these areas and give people a law enforcement public safety presence that wasn’t there before. That’s been a really positive thing so far,” he said.

He and his staff also just attended training at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Jen Kocher can be reached at:

Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken.
Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken. (Courtesy Photo)

Jen Kocher can be reached at

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter