This week in the Capital Region we had a terrible tragedy when Trooper Timothy Pratt lost his life while simply doing his job. It’s not often as a defense attorney that I’m inclined to celebrate the police. They are typically my adversaries. I’m usually trying to make them look like they didn’t do their job, are lying, or are incompetent. Likewise, they are often in the position of trying to cause my clients to be convicted of a crime. It’s a give and take, it’s a good system but it’s one where I rarely take the time to appreciate what they do. This week it is different though.
Trooper Pratt is not surrounded in controversy like many incidents with law enforcement have been in recent months. No one is blaming anyone, no one is saying he could have done something different, or that someone meant him harm. No, in this case it is clear that he was simply trying to help another citizen, trying to be nice and make another person’s life easier. It’s something the police do frequently but rarely gets recognized. Unfortunately this nice act in community policing cost him his life. For that we should all take a moment to commend him and the police who work among us.
Usually around tragedy we are quick to point fingers and push an agenda. It might be the agenda that the police are over zealous or need to be better at deescalating a situation. The counter will quickly be that police lives matter or that our citizenry need to be more respectful of law enforcement. All are issues that probably deserve discussion but this time we don’t have to have that discussion or try to push our position. We simply get to mourn the loss of a good man.
This was a man who chose to serve his country in the United States Air Force and then went on to continue his service to his community as a New York State Trooper. Service on this level is rare and can frequently be missed by us. The bad eggs or the heroes of a moment frequently dominate our thoughts and discussion. A man who serves and simply does his job helping the people who he lives within the community deserves to be celebrated. I didn’t know Trooper Pratt but I’m sure in his decades of service he made countless lives better, helped people young and old who never knew his name, and he left things better than he found them.
The police officers I’ve gotten to know over the course of my career and life have generally been people who just want to help. They think what they are doing is right and they do the best they can in each situation. Of course they make mistakes, have errors in judgment, and have bad days. That’s a part of what allows them to want to help, they are human and flawed but make the choice to serve us anyway. Even with our criticisms and judgment they line up everyday to try to help.
So for this week, or at least today, we can take a moment to celebrate a man who made the ultimate sacrifice just trying to help. He did nothing wrong and lost his life doing his job. We can celebrate his family who probably worried about a day like this each day that he went to work. We can celebrate all of the work and the people who he helped during his years of service. We can appreciate him by being thankful for the work and sacrifices that all people of service make. They know the risks are real and the accolades are limited but they do it anyway.
Thank You, Law Enforcement
Thank you Trooper Pratt and police officers everywhere. You do tough and valuable work that we frequently forget to appreciate. I’ll certainly be back to criticizing and second guessing soon but I also have to remember to appreciate more frequently too.
The good police of this state and region make it a great place to live for my family and me. For that I’m incredibly grateful.
Kevin K. O’Brien
O’BRIEN AND WOOD, PLLC
41 State Street, Suite 503
Albany, New York 12207
Phone: (518) 694 – 8875
Facsimile: (518) 694-8877
Cellphone: (518) 618-5423