Boone Co. Sheriff pens heartfelt letter to community after Deputy Pickett's death

"We are beyond grateful"

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. -- Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen penned a heartfelt letter of thanks to the community for their support following the fatal shooting of Deputy Jacob Pickett. 

Deputy Pickett was fatally shot while he and his K-9 partner, Brik, were assisting the Lebanon Police Department with a chase on March 2. 

Sheriff Nielsen led the ceremony Saturday afternoon as Deputy Pickett's cruiser was set up as a memorial in front of the Sheriff's Department. 

PHOTOS | Cruiser memorial for Deputy Pickett

After an emotional 24 hours, Sheriff Nielsen issued a letter to the community and his fellow law enforcement officers saying he and his deputies are "beyond grateful" for the support and love they have received since the tragic event. 

You can read his full letter to the community below. 

READ | Deputy Jacob Pickett fatally wounded during pursuit 

Sheriff Mike Nielsen to our Community

Finally, I have an opportunity to sit down and address this great community we live in. I have reflected upon the last thirty-six hours and have found that I am at a loss for words. Thirty-six hours that will change so many lives in this community forever.

The BCSO has lost one of our family. The thin blue line was shattered. I want you to know that your law enforcement community came together yesterday and went to war against evil and they performed flawlessly.

You can be proud of every one of them.

The fire and EMS units were beyond reproach and worked tirelessly to save Jake. There are no words that feel adequate to express how that feels to each of us when we lose part of our family. I talked to many people last night including the children in the community. Jake was special to each of us for different reasons and special to all of us for the same reasons - his warm heart, huge smile, love for our children, honor to the badge, love for his community and for his K-9 Brik.

There will forever be a loss felt in our community for him. He was a warrior and he died laying down his life for you. He will never be forgotten.

The days, weeks, months, and years ahead will be difficult. We will need to rely on our community to heal the broken hearts. It will get better but we will never fully recover from such a devastating tragedy, we will never forget because we lost one of our own.

As I struggle to make sense of any of this, I question why things like this happen to good people? Although the outcome was tragic, I take comfort in knowing Jake was running behind Brik, giving commands to “Pakken” to get the suspect…. doing what he loved and knowing his partner was there beside him. In the end, Brik was there by Jake’s side…doing what Brik loved…. protecting his partner to the end.

I want the community to know that Jake constantly strived to be the best leader that he could be by always putting others before himself.

Yesterday I witnessed one of the most tragic incidents in my career and we are devastated and heartbroken, just as you are within the community. I will continue to gain my strength from Jake, knowing that he wanted to complete his mission with passion, dedication, and commitment. He lived each one of our Sheriff’s Office value points every day - Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Professionalism, and Commitment. For this is where I will continue to draw my strength, courage, and drive to complete our difficult mission over the next several days.

My hope is that each of you will do the same.

I have always been proud to be associated with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office but over the last 36 hours, I am now even more so. The outpouring of support we have received from our community is incredible.

Jake’s wife Jen wishes to extend a personal “thank you” to each of you.

On behalf of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, we are beyond grateful.

John 15:13 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

With respect, Sheriff Mike Nielsen

READ | Sheriff Nielsen arrests man accused of fatally shooting Deputy Pickett | What led to the fatal shooting of Deputy Jacob Pickett? | Deputy Pickett's cruiser memorialized in front of Boone County Sheriff's Office

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