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La Plata County Sheriff’s Office sergeant has a memory like a steel trap

Wes Doughty recalls names, birthdays and even license plate numbers, sometimes for years
Sgt. Wes Doughty, with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, is known for his exceptional memory. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

After working in law enforcement for more than 10 years, it can be easy to forget all the faces, people and places, but not for Sgt. Wes Doughty with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

“Wes remembers license plates, dates of birth, associates that people hang out with, and even folks that are wanted with arrest warrants and things like that,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Chris Burke. “He’s really outstanding at portraying our mission, vision and values.”

Though he’s never been tested for eidetic memory, or extraordinarily accurate and vivid recall, Doughty thinks it’s a safe bet that there’s something similar going on in his head.

“I get a lot of flak for it sometimes,” he said. “People like to poke fun because I’ve got a weird memory. I think I heard the dispatchers making fun of me one day because someone ran a person’s name over the radio and I was able to give them that person’s license plate number.”

Doughty graduated from the police academy in 2011 and started his career in law enforcement with the Durango Police Department. In 2015, Doughty said he decided to switch over to the Sheriff’s Office for family reasons. He was promoted to sergeant in 2018.

“Wes is a great officer, a great father and a great community member,” Burke said.

In some cases, his colleagues will look to him to remember things like license plate numbers or names to help with police work.

“People will have someone caught on camera doing A through Z and they’ll ask me, ‘Hey, who is this?’” Doughty said. “Oftentimes, I have to disappoint them and say to be honest with you I have no idea. Other times, I’ll know exactly who it is and can tell you about something they did eight years ago.”

Doughty said he can’t take any credit for his steel trap memory; rather, he sees it as a gift from God.

“I can’t claim it as my own success, because I didn’t really ask for it and I’ve never really practiced it or anything,” he said.

Doughty said his memory is sharper at remembering residents who commit crimes.

“I kind of joke about it sometimes, but unfortunately, I’m not as sharp at remembering people who haven’t crossed my path for a bad reason,” he said.

One benefit to remembering people at their worst is getting to see them in the community when they’ve turned things around, he said.

Burke said Doughty’s strange memory has helped with police work on a number of occasions. However, he can’t currently remember any stories of Doughty that don’t involve potentially active cases.

Doughty said one time he was driving by the mall with a trainee and spotted a vehicle and named the license plate number that was too far in front of them to see clearly.

“I saw that it was a dark-colored Pontiac, and there was a family of individuals at that time that were heavily involved in crime in our area,” he said. “I recognized from a distance that this was the car and I told my trainee the plate number, and sure enough he pulled up and it’s the correct plate number.”

In one case, Doughty said he was subpoenaed because he was able to help identify someone based on a nickname they used around town.

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