As most young boys grow up they say want to be a police officer, firefighter or the president. For Jamison Wiggins, the newest sworn deputy of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, the dream was a little different.
“I always wanted to be Grand County Sheriff,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins, a 2007 graduate of Grand County High School, is the grandson of Ray Tibbetts, a GCSO deputy in the era of the uranium boom, and his great-grandfather, Bill Tibbetts, was once Moab Town marshal. On Nov. 22, Wiggins was sworn in as the newest GCSO patrol deputy, with his first watch beginning this week.
“My grandpa, Ray Tibbetts, always told me stories about being a deputy here in Grand County and I always thought his stories were cool,” Wiggins said. “I thought those stories were great, but I wanted to go a step further and be the sheriff. With my great-grandpa, Bill Tibbetts, being town marshal way back in the day, it just kind of ran in my blood.”
In 2013, The Times-Independent ran a feature story on Ray Tibbetts where he described himself as a “rancher, a rebel, a politician and a sheriff’s deputy.” Going back even farther into the history of Moab, Bill Tibbetts, while once accused of being an outlaw, rose beyond those claims to become Moab’s town marshal and be recognized as an upstanding citizen and family man in his own right.
Wiggins signed on with GCSO more than a year ago as a correctional officer in the Grand County Jail. It was during this time that he passed the Peace Officer Standardized Training (POST) course for corrections. Subsequently, he began working on courses for the law enforcement POST program in Sandy, where he graduated last month.
With an eye to his family history in law enforcement, Wiggins kept his life clean and did well in high school, playing football and soccer along the way and learning what he said is the “discipline” he needed to pursue his dream of working in law enforcement. During his time at GCHS, Wiggins said one coach in particular helped prepare him for the physical rigors — 8th grade and GCHS football coach Dewayne Gwinn.
“I remember coach [Gwinn] because he pushed me to be my best,” Wiggins said. “He was my favorite coach and made sure I was always doing the right things when I was younger.”
Wiggins began his first in-car shifts with the department this week and he said he is looking forward to the challenges he will face, though he added that he understands law enforcement is quite different now than in his grandfather or great-grandfather’s day.
“One of the things we learn in POST, in addition to the actual technical side of police work, is that everyone has phones with cameras today and everyone is watching us,” Wiggins said. “We have to act correctly as officers out there because everyone is recording everything we do these days. We’re always going to be scrutinized the next day, so it is important for me to always get it right and do the right things when it comes to interactions with the public. The key is to take your time and don’t make mistakes when you’re on the streets. I want to treat everyone with respect and go above and beyond in my dealings with them.”
One of the big goals for Wiggins, now that he is on the streets and highways of Grand County, is to do all that he can in eliminating the drug trade in the region. This crime, he said, is a blight on our town and county — and he wants to do something about it.
“For me, I’m not the kind of deputy that is going to be writing tickets all the time,” Wiggins said. “The entire nation has a drug problem right now and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves, the drugs ... I don’t want the drugs here in this community ... I want to help get it out of the reach of the younger generation. I think I can make a huge difference. This motivates me.”