Officer Derek Pratico, of the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff’s Office, represents what being a police officer is really all about. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of bad news out there about bad cops. But the good things police officers do every day generally go unreported.
But occasionally, an officer like Derek Pratico goes well above and beyond the call of duty, to make a real difference in the lives of people he protects and serves.
Here’s what happened: This incident took place weeks ago — on March 28, to be exact — but it didn’t become public knowledge until recently because Officer Pratico didn’t make a big deal of it. It wasn’t until the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported the incident on its own Facebook page that Derek Pratico got any publicity for it at all.
Anyway, back on March 28, the officer responded to a call about a van that had been broken into an burglarized. Sometime between that afternoon and the previous evening, some heartless thief got into the van and pilfered about $2,000 worth of new clothes and other items — including a birthday present for a young boy.
The boy’s mother was distraught. She told Officer Pratico that she purchased the new clothes with the money she got from her income tax refund. Now there was nothing left — not even anything to replace her son’s stolen birthday gift.
Police dusted the minivan for fingerprints and canvassed the Gilmore Street neighborhood looking for a possible suspect. But they came up empty. Officer Derek Pratico wrote up his police report and finished his shift that day.
But the next day, Officer Pratico still had that little boy on his mind — the little boy who was now going to have an empty birthday. So the officer took out his own wallet and bought the boy a new present.
He also bought a birthday card — and a cake. Needless to say, the boy and his mom were delighted. Officer Pratico also handed her a $100 shopping gift card, just to help her out of her tight spot. All of the goods, he bought with his own money.
“I believe children deserve presents on their birthday,” Pratico said later. “That’s just the way I was raised.”
“Great job, Officer Pratico! We are so proud of you,” the department later posted in its Facebook page. “Thank you for making a positive impact on this Jacksonville family.”
Derek Pratico agreed to have his picture taken with the boy, whose name was not released. But the officer was quick to point out, “I did not do this for any recognition. I just felt it was the right thing to do at that moment.”