One early weekday morning a few years ago, I was assigned to work patrol with Officer Dan Pratt. When the radio call load eased up a bit and we were talking over a cup of coffee, the conversation led to the reasons for working 77th Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. I asked Danny for his reason. He said, "I think the people need us here the most. I can be of help here. You should go where you can do the most good." Dan did not speak those words for personal gain or praise. We were two patrol cops over a cup of coffee giving our reasons for doing what we do.
I have since left 77th Division, but Danny's words to me on that one morning (which was the only time I worked with him) were spoken with unprovoked sincerity and unquestionable honesty. Those words have done more to mold and shape my attitude toward public service than any other person or incident since.
When a true public servant is lost, it is a major loss to our community as a whole ("Officer Slain Responding to Drive-By Gang Shooting," Metro, Sept. 5). It is a loss to the barber, to the store clerk, to the realtor and to the auto mechanic. The true public servant puts his/her life into the hands of our community, and sadly, often gives his/her life for our welfare. Dan and his attitude were a rare and valued commodity in this world.