An unusual scene unfolded Saturday night at Fireside Family Restaurant in Baggs, Wyo.
Seven uniformed sheriffs, men more accustomed to writing traffic tickets and serving justice, were instead writing meal tickets and serving food.
The occasion was “Tip-a-Cop,” a fundraiser for deputy Kyle Rosentreter, of the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office. At $15 per plate, the event raised an estimated $1,700 in three hours.
Rosentreter was injured in a car accident July 4.
“Our deputy was responding to a call when he got into a head-on collision,” said Richard Fowler, a captain with the sheriff’s office. “(Rosentreter) broke his neck, his hip, some ribs and injured his hand.”
Rosentreter, 49, has partial paralysis and suffers memory loss from the accident, Fowler said. He is currently undergoing rehabilitative therapy at Craig Hospital in Denver.
The fundraiser, organized and sponsored by Fireside Family Restaurant, sought to defray some of those medical costs.
“Every penny of (the fundraiser) goes to Kyle,” said Ken Battson, Fireside Family Restaurant owner. “I’m not just talking profits — it’s all the funds. We’re happy to do it.”
Battson, the sole sponsor of the event, has never met Rosentreter, but said he felt he had a duty to do something for the injured deputy.
“If we can do something to help him, then we want to do it,” Battson said. “If (Rosentreter) finds out that a lot of people that he doesn’t even know have done something to try to help him, then it might give him that extra spark to get through (rehabilitation).
“I want him to come to the restaurant in a year or so, sit down, and have a ribeye with me.”
Sheriff’s office deputy Derrek Craig said Rosentreter’s condition is improving.
“I talk to (Rosentreter) regularly on the phone,” Craig said. “He’s gaining ground every day. He’s getting a little more movement. And he still has high spirits.
“Kyle is one of my best friends.”
Craig, who waited tables for a living before joining law enforcement, said returning to restaurant work after a long hiatus was “no big deal.”
“It’s like riding a bike,” he said.
For other deputies, however, waiting tables was an entirely new, and somewhat unnerving, experience.
Linda Battson, Ken Battson’s 38-year-old daughter, said the deputies experienced a steep learning curve Saturday.
“You could see the fear in their eyes,” Linda said of her temporary employees. “When the first customers arrived, they were uneasy, but they’ve adjusted great.”
Louis Braun, a sheriff’s office lieutenant, said serving tables parallels his law enforcement work.
“It’s just like our day job,” said Braun, 56. “It’s feast or famine: You’re either busy or you’re not.”