Ceremony honors an Idaho hero

Memorial pays tribute to Jacobson, all law officers

Brent Jacobson’s daughter, Angie, and his widow, Barb, use their smartphones to take pictures of a law officers' memorial at the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

SANDPOINT — A U.S. Forest Service agent’s dedication to justice and familiarity with the lay of the land in Bonner County were recognized Wednes-day during a ceremony honoring law officers in Idaho who were slain in the line of duty.

Brent “Jake” Jacobson cornered two home-invasion robbery suspects west of Dover following an intense manhunt in January 1989.

Jacobson, 41, was fatally wounded by a shotgun blast during an ensuing gun battle.

Jacobson’s ultimate sacrifice was remembered Wednesday during an Idaho Peace Officer’s Memorial hosted by Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler. The ceremony also paid respect to all officers — living and dead — dedicated to protecting life, liberty and property.

Jacobson was awarded the Idaho Medal of Honor in 2011. Wheeler said the honor would not have been bestowed if not for the determination of sheriff’s Sgt. Phyllis Jay.

“If it weren’t for Phyllis Jay and her tenacity, this would not have happened,” said Wheeler, who also lobbied for Jacobson to receive the honor.

Jacobson is the first Forest Service officer in Idaho to receive the state’s Medal of Honor.

The sheriff’s office transferred the Medal of Honor to Forest Service officials during the ceremony. It will be on display at the Sandpoint Ranger District offices.

Jay said Jacobson insisted on using the last scraps of daylight to track Joseph and James Pratt, who were suspected of perpetrating a robbery near Lake Pend Oreille’s Comeback Bay.

The brothers fled the scene, touching off a rolling gun battle in which James Pratt opened fire on pursuers with a 12-gauge shotgun. The suspects ditched their getaway vehicle and continued their flight on foot in the rugged Smith Creek drainage.

After a 22-hour search, Jacobson and a deputy discovered the Pratts sleeping under a tree and ordered them to surrender. A second gun battle erupted and Jacobson was fatally wounded by a shotgun blast.

The Pratts later surrendered and were convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and assault on law enforcement. They are serving life sentences.

“Jake will not be forgotten and he’ll live in the hearts of all that knew him,” said Jay.

Former Bonner County Coroner Dale Coffelt, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, said he got to know Jacobson through the eyes of his surviving family members and share the emotions of that the trial dredged up.

Coffelt said he has always felt close to the law-enforcement community and praised officers past and present for their dedication and sacrifice.

“You are our first line of defense,” Coffelt said.

Ponderay Police Chief Mike Hutter, Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon and Priest River Police Chief Ray Roberts concluded the ceremony by reading the names of the 66 law officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

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