Porter County Sheriff's Department


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


PCSP Memorial Service

Three Fallen Officers Honored remembered

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 family.

"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."

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 front row.

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."


Somber tone marks Porter County Sheriff’s memorial service

By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent May 19, 2012


Pastor Jay Birky gives the Invocation during the annual National Law Enforcement Week memorial service at the Porter County Sheriff's Department in Valparaiso, Ind. Friday May 18, 2012. The ceremony took on special meaning with the death Wednesday of Officer Phillip Pratt, 24, who was killed in a motorcycle crash.  Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media


Several hundred people gathered under sunny skies Friday for the annual Porter County Sheriff’s Department National Law Enforcement Officer Week memorial service, which usually includes a “spit and polish” inspection of officer’s equipment.

This year the inspection was dropped and the service took a more somber tone with the death of Officer Phillip Pratt, who died in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday. Pratt would have celebrated his third year in the department on June 22.

Pratt joins only three other Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers who have died while in service — Edward Blakely, Timothy Hecht and Robert Hardesty. Blakely is the sole officer to have been killed in the line of duty, ambushed during an investigation. Hecht and Hardesty both died in training accidents. Hecht died during a training exercise for a newly formed SWAT team. Hardesty was with the FBI at the time of his accident.

“Once you wear the brown and tan of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, you are always a part of us,” said Sheriff David Lain.

Pratt’s death, as did the others’, came unexpectedly. “That’s one thing we have to prepare for in this business is the unexpected,” Lain said. Speaking of all of the fallen officers, “They remind us that we cannot wait for ‘the moment.’ Every minute has to be the one we train for and they caution us to hold dearly those we love.”

Orland Park, Ill., Chief of Police Tim McCarthy was keynote speaker. McCarthy is the former Secret Service agent who was wounded defending President Ronald Reagan from an assassination attempt. McCarthy noted that those who die in the service of others are heroes, but all officers are “unsung heroes.” The challenge in public service is enduring an accumulation of small successes and a string of “unending quiet, un-heroic acts,” said McCarthy. “They do their duty simply because it has to be done.”

After the ceremony Pratt’s brother, Nate, told of how unconcerned Phil was about the dangers of riding a motorcycle. “He didn’t really care. He was always a stubborn kid. He liked to do what he wanted to do.”

Sister-in-law Lori added, “This is how he wanted to go out because he knew what he was doing.”

Pratt’s father, Nick, is still getting used to the loss of his youngest son. “It’s surreal. It comes in waves. I’m still hoping he’ll come walking through the door. In his 24 years on Earth, he was a blessing to a lot of people. He always wanted to be a cop, since he was 5 years old.

Pratt’s oldest brother, Jason, a missionary pilot in Indonesia, is expected to arrive in time for the funeral on Tuesday.

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