As they do at each Law Enforcement Training Center graduation, those gathered to see their loved ones join law enforcement’s ranks observed a moment of silence to honor fallen officers.
On Thursday, that moment was driven home when Michael and Rita Pratt presented one of the graduates with the first scholarship established in honor of their late son, Jason Tye Pratt.
Pratt was an eight-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department when he was shot during a foot pursuit in north Omaha on Sept. 11, 2003. He died eight days later.
“Tye was not great because of the way he left this world but because of the way he lived,” Michael Pratt said. “Tye loved what he did — probably for the same reason you’ve chosen your noble professions — because he wanted to help people.”
After Tye Pratt died, his family began selling custom-made wristbands in his honor and donated the proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of Omaha. The first bands, which sell for $29.95 each, featured a diamond-etched photo of Tye and a written memorial on aircraft aluminum. Now a variety of photos, etched images and sayings are available.
The proceeds go to the Officer Tye Pratt Law Enforcement Fund at the training center. A $500 grant will be given to one student each session to help them purchase body armor or other necessary equipment.
The recipient from the 164th basic class was Travis King, a 43-year-old father of five who is restarting his law enforcement career in Fremont after serving with the Rollins, Wyo., Police Department. King’s wife also suffers from medical problems, Pratt said as he presented the scholarship.
Pratt said the scholarship was offered through an application process and knew it was going to be tough to decide who should get the money. He said after reading all the applications, he was shocked by the graduates’ nominations of King.
“It was kinda overwhelming,” Pratt said.
He hadn’t expected the men and women applying to do so for someone else but said he shouldn’t have been surprised due to the unselfish nature of those who go into law enforcement.
In addition to the grant, the Pratts presented King with a personalized Tye band featuring the Fremont Police Department’s badge and the words “Thank you for your courage.”
After the ceremony, King said he didn’t know he would be receiving the grant and hadn’t yet decided how he would spend the money.
The Pratts also presented the training center staff with a plaque that features a photo of Tye Pratt and the slogan “These are the bands that tie us all together.”
The plaque is to symbolize the first Tye bands, which were made of solid brass. On Thursday graduate Christifer Folkerts, who received a non-law certification, received one of the brass bands.
The idea that their new professions could cost them their lives wasn’t lost on the graduates. During his address to his fellow students, Jerry Esch of the Hastings Police Department, gave the instructors a plaque as a thank you for all their hard work.
“You’ve saved all our lives,” he said. “It just hasn’t happened yet.”