Three Fallen Officers
Jeff Burton nwi.com
May 18, 2012
It was 31 years ago that
then-Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy was shot in an
assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
The keynote speaker at
Friday's annual Porter County Sheriff's Department
Police Memorial, McCarthy, since 1994 police chief in
Orland Park, Ill., said officers go to work each day
knowing that what happened to him could happen to them.
McCarthy said officers
regularly fight for their lives with drunken drivers,
drug dealers and wanted felons, and in the process,
secure the safety of others.
"What they give us is their
energy, their time, their dedication and their hearts,
and they do so in pursuit of a goal that is sometimes
elusive," McCarthy said.
During the ceremony, the
department honored the memory of Officer Edward Blakely,
who was ambushed and killed while investigating a
suspicious vehicle in 1961, Officer Tim Hecht, who died
in 1999 during SWAT team training, and Robert Hardesty,
an FBI agent and former sheriff's officer who died in
2005 during a training exercise.
Sheriff Dave Lain said the
department continues to honor the three officers long
after their service, because the officers are a second
"Once you wear the brown and
tan of the Porter County Sheriff's Department, that is
emblazoned on your heart," Lain said.
Officer Phil Pratt lived his dream.
"Ever since he was a kid, and it might sound cliché, but
he always wanted to be a cop. He knew it. It was in his
bones," his brother Nathan said.
Family, friends and colleagues at the Porter County
Sheriff's Department annual memorial service Friday
remembered Pratt, 24, a Porter County officer who died
Wednesday in an off-duty motorcycle crash.
Pratt's No. 109 patrol car was parked on the lawn with
its light bar covered in black and his framed photo on
the hood. Sheriff Dave Lain said the officer would have
wanted to be standing among his peers Friday morning.
"I thought it was important for all of us to gather here
as a family," Lain said. "Phil knew why he was placed
here with us. We know he will always be a member of this
Department Chaplain Jay Birky said he'll remember Pratt
for his smile and the care he showed for others. He
said, "109 was just a small guy, but he had a huge
impact on people's lives."
After the ceremony, dozens of officers and staff members
offered their condolences to Pratt's parents, brother,
fiancée and other family members who were seated in the
Nathan Pratt said stories about his brother's dedication
on the job aren't surprising.
"He was really passionate about protecting people,
especially kids and the disabled, the people who
couldn't protect themselves," Nathan Pratt said.
As the family prepares for his funeral Tuesday, Nathan
Pratt said it's still difficult to believe his brother
won't be standing by his side as they grow older.
"I always just thought it would be the three Pratt boys
versus the world," he said.
Sister-in-law Lori Pratt said the family is finding
solace in knowing the officer was able to live the life
he always wanted, albeit briefly.
"He could have done anything he wanted," she said. "He
was made for this. God made him for this."