Governor Mark Gordon's appointee for Wyoming Attorney General is only the second woman to serve in the position. Bridgett Hill was sworn in by the State Senate this week, marking an already significant career serving the state of Wyoming.
Most recently she directed the Office of State Land and Investments. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson, met up with Hill in her Cheyenne office to discuss her new role as Attorney General.
Tennessee Watson: Coming into this new role, are there issues that feel particularly urgent to you or things that you see as priorities for your tenure as Attorney General?
Bridgett Hill: I don't know if I see something pressing more than anything. Things come up at times in the Attorney General's office and you have to deal with them as they come up. Priorities I think I would like to focus on [are] making this the best law office in the state. So as you know we're representing all the agencies of the state. I think we should be the subject matter experts in the law related to those agencies that we represent. Additionally, I know that our natural resources are a priority for the governor. So that would be our water, our wildlife, our lands. Those are a big focus for the governor. So I know that means that as his legal representatives that will be a big focus for us as well, during his time as governor. And then the last one that I would point to is our consumer protection unit. Our consumer protection unit gives us a little better ability to interface with the public more one-to-one than we do in our other roles.
And so I'd want to focus on that to be a help to the citizens of the state of Wyoming.
TW: Over the last year there have been several officer-involved shootings in Wyoming and that's brought a conversation about use of force to the surface. Do have a sense of what your office's role should be in conversations about things like police use of force?
BH: Well you know obviously I'm brand new to the job and so I haven't had a chance to hear what conversations have already occurred. But I do think our Peace Officers Standards and Training [Commission], as well as our Law Enforcement Academy, are out there to be a resource to all our law enforcement officers in the state. And so if we can help people better train and better prepare for those types of situations it makes all the sense in the world for us to be involved in that.
TW: So another question that I want to ask you about is clergy abuse. In particular, because the Attorney General in Colorado just announced an independent investigation there, looking at how the Catholic Church historically has handled the issue. And we have an open [police] investigation going on in Wyoming; it's happening right here in Cheyenne. And one of the reasons that the Diocese of Cheyenne pushed the police to reopen this case, which was originally closed in 2002, is the Diocese says that initial investigation was flawed. Seeing as Colorado has launched an investigation, seeing that the Pennsylvania Attorney General's investigation yielded information about a cover-up, there were like over 300 priests and over 1,000 victims that came out of that state-level investigation of the issue, I'm wondering if that is also something that's on your radar as the attorney general in Wyoming?
BH: Well I just generally know of the issue.
Again I'm new enough to the office that I haven't been able to hear fully about what that situation is and where we are and so at this time I don't, I wouldn't have any further idea or comment.
TW: I guess I'm curious how it ends up on an attorney general's radar?
BH: Well I think we've got to talk to or get our arms around what the full issue is and then understand in our process, our legal process how we get there. There are various statutes that talk about when we undertake an investigation and obviously we would need to follow those statutes and see. We're aware of topics out there and when we become aware of topics and understanding whether we want to undertake an investigation or not it becomes a matter of understanding what the issue is. If we're the best position to do that sort of investigation and then whether we can under our authorities.
You know I think we've got great people in the state, great law enforcement people including our Division of Criminal Investigations who keep their focus on law enforcement problems that are out there. And so I think just being nationally aware of problems that are out there keeps us informed and in a position to take action when we need to.
TW: And the last thing I wanted to ask you about is it's my understanding that you're the second woman to hold this role as attorney general in the state of Wyoming. I'm wondering how you feel about that?
BH: Wow. You know I am honored first of all to be the second woman. And following a really great woman attorney general that was the first woman, Kay Woodhouse, who did a great job. So I'm honored by that. At the same time, I guess I thought growing up in Wyoming well aware of our history with women's rights and being the first state to recognize women's right to vote, I will say I just assumed it was well known that women could do anything that they wanted and would if they wanted a job would be able to get it. And so in a lot of ways I believed it was always a possibility.
TW: Bridgett Hill is Wyoming's new Attorney General. Good luck with your new appointment and thank you so much for your time.
BH: Yes. Thank you for having me. I very much appreciate it and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.