Just before Weld County Sheriff John Cooke took office nearly 12 years ago, his predecessor had strong words about the power that goes with being the top law enforcement officer in the county.

"People have a tendency to get a big head," Cooke said recently as he recalled the advice. "Don't do it. Just because you're elected and people want to talk to you doesn't mean you're anything special."

Cooke, who is serving his last five months in office after running into a term limit, said he took those words to heart.

But he didn't shy away from the power that goes with the sheriff's office. He was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by 55 sheriffs against Gov. John Hickenlooper over Colorado's gun control laws.

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