Local Life|Local Knowledge

Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr

// By Jim Stanford

The sheriff, an avid boater and skier, draws on his variety of work experience to connect with people.

Among the many jobs Sheriff Matt Carr has worked in Jackson Hole are several seasons as a rafting guide on the Snake and a decade of piloting boats across Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Keeping an even keel in rough water comes in handy for the newly re-elected 51-year-old lawman, not only when responding to emergencies, but for navigating the politics of the job. He’s discovered that engaging as a public political figure can be challenging. “I didn’t see that coming,” he says.  

The native of Richmond, Virginia, with family roots in North Carolina tobacco country, majored in secondary education at James Madison University. He came to Jackson Hole with college friends in the summer of 1992 and worked as a dishwasher at The Bunnery. Then after graduation the following year, he moved here to be a ski instructor. He progressed from instructing to running the Kids’ Ranch to ski patrol, where he still works part time; this is his 30th season at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Before being elected in 2016, Carr had worked in or supervised all divisions of the sheriff’s office, from the jail and patrol to investigations and search and rescue. He was the school resource officer and ran the drug abuse prevention program, while working summers at Jenny Lake Boating. He is only the fourth Democrat elected sheriff in Teton County and the first since Lawrence Cheney in 1966. Although “not a big party person,” he says, he identifies as a Democrat because of his concern for the environment and support for social services.

He’d like to hire more Spanish speakers among his ranks. “As the sheriff’s office, we need to be representative of the community we serve,” he says. And he laments the lack of deputies living locally—only 1 of 20 patrol officers resides in Teton County, and he’s a caretaker. “When you have officers who shop at the same grocery stores as you do, have kids who go to the same schools, and you go to church together, it makes a big difference,” he says. 

Teton County has “all the crimes of a big city,” and the influx of people is straining infrastructure and staffing, he says. But despite the changes, “There’s still a core that’s very much engaged,” he says. “The community here still has the ability to rise to the occasion. My concern is how long we can maintain that.” JH

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