VALPARAISO: Men take new jobs as court security, corrections officers
BY KEN KOSKY
story ran on nwitimes.com on Monday, July 18, 2005 12:15 AM CDT
VALPARAISO | One was known
for his ability to track down criminals. The other knew the roads and
residents of Porter County like the back of his hand.
Porter County Sheriff's Department Officers Dean Pontjeris and John Dobbins,
who each served for about a quarter century, have retired.
Pontjeris, 57, spent the first
part of his career as a patrol officer but found his niche as the
department's warrant officer. He donned different disguises, drove different
vehicles and pulled out all the stops to locate fugitives.
His biggest case was the 2002 capture of Charles Regula, a convicted
murderer from Portage who escaped from prison and was on the loose for 13
years. The same year, he also caught cop-turned-fugitive Daniel Yaksich.
Although Yaksich used his past police experience to avoid being arrested,
Pontjeris found him so he could stand trial on charges he drove drunk and
Pontjeris was honored for his work by being named 2002 Police Officer of the
Year by the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police.
Although Pontjeris retired as a police officer, he began work as a jail
officer at Porter County Jail. He believes his experience helps him handle
different people and situations.
"I closed one door in my law enforcement career ... and I opened another,"
Pontjeris said. "But I miss serving warrants and looking for people who
don't want to be found."
The human computer
Dobbins, 52, has also retired as a patrol officer, but remained with the
department. He is a court security officer for the Juvenile Court in
Dobbins, known as the human computer because of his knowledge of the county,
said officers still contact him with questions. He's also had the chance,
while working security, to make an arrest warrant and help someone locked
out of a vehicle.
Dobbins learned about the county by tagging along with his grandfather, who
had a sales route. He learned even more by growing up in the county and by
working in an ambulance before becoming a police officer.
Six weeks into his police career, he responded to a fight between brothers
and a gun discharged. The bullet came within inches of hitting him. Dobbins
went on to arrest three murder suspects during his career. He also started
the bicycle patrol team at the Sheriff's Department.
"I miss the road a lot, dealing with the public, the flexibility, the
mobility, the variety," Dobbins said.
Dobbins' advice to today's officers is to treat people with respect in order
to get respect back. "Don't second guess the decisions you make and learn from your mistakes," he