Porter County Sheriff's Department

What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department


Longtime Sheriff's Officers Retire

VALPARAISO: Men take new jobs as court security, corrections officers
This 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.


The bulldog

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 injured people.  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 Valparaiso.  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 said.

1999-2014 Porter County Sheriff. All rights reserved. Page design by Edie Hahn.