Location of Adams County within Colorado ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO The COGenWeb Project

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The Adams County Sheriff’s Department was started in 1902, soon after the county was formed, with Martin Bromley as its first sheriff. He was elected and served a four year term.  The under sheriff ran on the same ticket as the sheriff, but the jailer and deputies were appointed by the sheriff.

The sheriff and the under sheriff were paid on a salary schedule while the deputies were paid by the number of calls they went out on.  They were given a mileage allowance.  There existed no training program as there is now.

From 1932 until 1956 Adams County had four different sheriffs; Lewis Ballard, Herman Farney, Homer Mayberry, and Ira Basher.

Much of this chapter is from information given by Phillip Rotello, a deputy under all four men.

Several interesting events happened during Deputy Rotello’s years in the department.

Red Light Bandit

A pair of bandits would dress up like a man and woman and cover their lights with red kerchiefs so that people would think they were the police.  They would then drive into a "lover’s lane" area


and beat up and rob the people in their cars.  They were eventually caught when two male sheriffs officers posed as lovers in their car.  When the "Red Light Bandits" approached the car, shots were fired and one was killed and the other was apprehended.

Liquor Truck Robbery

Two men stole a liquor truck containing nearly $10,000 worth of liquor.  After searching for the men and the truck for nearly four months, it was found in the yard of Deputy Rotello.  The two men apparently did not realize that they were on a dead-end road.  They jumped out of the truck and ran with Rotello in pursuit.  He had only a pistol and they had sub-machine guns.  They were never apprehended.

Pot Isn't A New Fad

In 1948, Sheriff Mayberry found and destroyed a large cache of marijuana in Globeville.  It was the largest amount ever found up until that time.

The life of a law enforcement officer was not easy during the early days of the department.  They had a large amount of area to cover with only a 37 man force as compared to a 140 man force in 1978.


Many of the problems facing law enforcement men of today did not exist in the years past, at least not to the same extent. Some are good, others are not so good. A good example of a change which can result in problems is the charge of police brutality if a fight or a criminal is shot or killed. Possibly many abuses of this existed years ago but it is thought that now the criminal has as many or sometimes even more rights than the officer.

The one thing that the sheriff of today has in common with the sheriff of years ago was a generous amount of coverage and dedication.


Phillip Rotello
Albin Wagner


Brighton Blade
Adams County Library - Brighton
Adams County Library - Northglenn
Adams County - Crossroads of the West, Wagner, Albin, 1977


Send Comments about this Adams County site to the Carolyn Golowka, Adams County Coordinator

I do not live in Colorado so I am unable to help with your personal research questions. All the information I know about Adams  County is posted promptly on this site. Please visit the "Research Resources" section of this site. I would suggest that if you don't find the information your looking for here, that you join the email list and post your question on the query board. The more places you ask the question, the better your chances of getting an answer.


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