#WHYoming: Shaun Sturlaugson

#WHYoming: Shaun Sturlaugson

SweetwaterNOW photo by Steph Peterson

Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership with Commerce Bank of Wyoming.

We are highlighting people throughout our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?

For this monthly’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Shaun Sturlaugson, the Chief of Police in Green River. Shaun has been with the Green River Police Department for nearly 20 years, serving several different roles within the department. He stepped into the role of interim police chief in April 2023, and was officially promoted as GRPD Chief of Police in December 2023.

Shaun was born and raised in Green River, and he couldn’t imagine living outside of Wyoming. A self-proclaimed Wyoming boy, he loves everything the state has to offer. Shaun loves the Green River and Sweetwater County communities, and all the support for law enforcement in this area is not lost on him. He feels blessed to be able to serve a community that supports their local law enforcement.

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It was fun getting to know Shaun on a more personal level and meeting the man behind the badge. His belief in improving oneself each and every day is something we can all take inspiration from, and it’s great to see his influence reflected in the amazing officers who protect and serve our community. Green River is lucky to have him leading the GRPD.

Shaun, how long have you been with the GRPD?

I’m one month shy of 20 years with Green River PD.

Can you tell us a bit about your career in law enforcement?

I started my law enforcement career in 2000 as a Detention Officer with the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office. In 2001 I moved to patrol and worked as a Patrol Deputy until 2004 when I came to Green River PD. The majority of my career at GRPD has been in the patrol division. In my time here I’ve acted as a radar instructor, the physical fitness coordinator, held numerous positions within SWAT, was a Field Training Officer for several years, and was a Patrol Sergeant prior to being a Lieutenant and Captain.

What do you love most about your job?

Working with the high-quality individuals we have here at Green River PD. Law Enforcement truly is a family, and it’s amazing to work with a group that has the same goals and desires that you do in terms of helping people and keeping the community safe. We truly have the very best working at Green River PD, and it’s a pleasure to do this with them.

How did you end up in Green River?

I grew up in Green River and, outside of the years I was in college, I’ve lived here my entire life. 

What is something unique about you?

My Icelandic heritage. My Dad was a full-blooded Icelander, and I can trace his lineage back to the time of the Vikings.

What do you appreciate most about our community?

As the leader of a law enforcement agency, it’s hard not to appreciate the support we receive from the community. When you look around the country and see the challenges that other departments are facing with regard to how they are treated, cuts in their funding, and restrictions that have been placed on their ability to do their job, it makes you feel very blessed to live in a community that not only supports you, but is happy to tell you that they appreciate the job you’re doing for them. We are extremely lucky that we get to do what we do in this community.

What are some of your hobbies?

Like most who grow up in Wyoming, I’m an outdoor person. I enjoy fly fishing, backpacking, camping, and hunting. Pretty much anything outside is appealing to me. I also enjoy reading, playing the guitar, and smoking cigars.

If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?

Never stop trying to improve yourself, even if it’s just 1% every day. It’s a lesson I was taught early in life, and I’ve found that you can accomplish amazing things for yourself and for those around you by simply trying to be a little bit better every day.

What is one, or a few, of your proudest accomplishments?

I’m not sure if it’s my accomplishment as much as it is theirs, but I’m very proud of who my children have become. As a parent you try to do your best to help your children become confident, mature adults, that work hard and give back to those around them and the communities they live in. Both of my children have grown to become wonderful people, and I’m very proud of both of them.

Shaun Sturlaugson is pinned as Green River Chief of Police by his children on January 2. SweetwaterNOW photo by Olivia Kennah

Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?

The Seedskadee area. It’s a great place to fly fish.

If you had all the time and resources necessary, what’s a skill you would want to learn?

I would like to learn to alpine climb. It’s another outdoor pursuit that I haven’t been able to explore as of yet, and the sense of accomplishment in completing a difficult climb appeals to me.

What would you sing at karaoke night?

If I had to, it would be something hard rock from the 80s.

How would your friends describe you?

I could only hope that they would describe me as a genuinely good guy that puts others first and tries his very best to do the right thing.

Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to make a movie about my life, but the actor would have to be Danny Devito, because we look so much alike…

Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?

I am a Wyoming boy, through and through, and I could never see myself living anywhere else. I’ve been all over the United States and I can truly say that there is no better place to be than Wyoming.

This community series is brought to you by our great sponsors at Commerce Bank of Wyoming.