Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs adapting to role leading agency

Adam Frerichs has been Cheyenne County Sheriff for just over a year. He has more than 20 years of experience with the department.

Growing up watching Gunsmoke and CHiPs on television and Clint Eastwood movies like "Hang ‘Em High," Adam Frerichs always had an interest in law enforcement.

After a few years in farming and working in the oil fields, Frerichs saw an ad for a deputy jailer with the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Office. Nearly 24 years later, Frerichs is just over a year into his first term as the county sheriff.

Frerichs worked for a few months as a jailer before being promoted to deputy sheriff, working his way up to a rank of sergeant. He took about five years off to try farming again in the 2000s, but came back to the department again as a sergeant, this time as a K-9 handler alongside the department's K9, Colonel. When Frerichs became sheriff, Colonel was retired. Within months of retirement, Colonel died, but he left his mark on Frerichs and he got the attention of the bad guys, even though he was a single-purpose drug search dog.

“The K-9 experience was awesome,” he said. “I loved having a dog as a partner. As a deputy sheriff, you spend a lot of your time alone, you’re usually working by yourself, so it was nice to have that K-9 partner that was with you all the time. It was funny because I still noticed that, even when I would arrive on scene, the bad guys would see the K-9 on the side of the car and they treated me differently. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t a bite dog, but you could tell, you’d pull up and they’d treat you a lot differently just knowing that there’s a dog there.

“Every time you think that you’re smarter than your K-9, he would prove you wrong and he would do something to show, ‘Nope, I’m still smarter than you Pa. I know what’s going on. I’ve got this.’ It was a very rewarding experience,” Frerichs said.

During his time as a deputy, Frerichs was a member of the SWAT team, working his way up to team leader in 2017. The SWAT experience gave him training not all law enforcement gets.

“One of the things that I’m sure a lot of law enforcement talk about is a lack of training,” Frerichs said. “It’s hard to find time to get guys out on the range to shoot and be proficient with their weapon, so most of that happens on your days off on your own. The nice thing about being on the SWAT team is that training was mandated. It was four hours every week, and you’d be out shooting, moving, learning the different moves and stuff like that, so it kept you really proficient with your weapon and that kind of stuff. That was one of the huge benefits that I found being on the SWAT team is your law enforcement officers are way better trained. Nine times out of 10 when we respond to a call, we’re not going as a SWAT team member, but the community gets that better-trained officer responding when they do go.”

Frerichs said he was perfectly happy as what he calls a “ground-pounder” on the streets and would have never considered running for sheriff until former Sheriff John Jensen stepped down.

He was concerned about what might happen in the department if someone from the outside were to become sheriff. Frerichs, a man of faith, said he also believes a series of events in life were telling him God wanted him to do the job, that it was his turn to step up.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Frerichs said. “It’s been very rewarding. The awesome thing was having Sheriff Jensen precede me, he took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, the ins and outs. Obviously, he can’t show you everything that’s going to happen, but for the most part he had me set up to succeed. Even so, the first six months, for me it was kind of a struggle. You’re trying to get your feet under you and learn everything that they throw at you. The first six months was pretty tough, but the second six months of last year was a little easier.”

Frerichs and his wife, Lisa, have two kids in college, twins in seventh grade and another in sixth grade. Born and raised in Cheyenne County, Frerichs grew up in Gurley and attended Leyton Schools from the fourth grade on. He said he developed a love for the area and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“I loved the fact that you knew your neighbors,” he said. “The school system was small enough that you knew everyone in the school system, and they knew you. The teachers were awesome because you got a lot of one-on-one. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”

As sheriff, Frerichs recognizes that he is the only elected law enforcement in the county, and he doesn’t take that responsibility lightly for himself or for his deputies.

“The role of the sheriff’s office for me is we are the public’s voice,” Frerichs said. “As the sheriff, we are the only elected law enforcement official that’s out there. The people actually elect us, so it’s up to us to represent and be the voice for our constituents. (The deputies are) public servants. Obviously, their job is to serve our public and investigate any calls to the best of our ability. They’re also a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. Everything that they do represents me, represents my office, represents the community’s office.”

Frerichs said any job can make you wonder what you got yourself into, but he said law enforcement is what he loves to do.

“I love to talk to the kids about law enforcement,” he said. “I’m a very pro-law enforcement kind of guy. I love the fact that you wake up in the morning, and you never know what you’re going to be doing that day. That’s true even as the sheriff. You have a pretty good idea when you go into work what you’re going to be doing, but at any second, the tones can go off, the radio can crackle and you’re off doing something different.”

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Reporter

Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at mark.mccarthy@starherald.com.

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