2nd Annual Deputy Pickett Remembrance Day Returns March 7 at the Boone County Fairgrounds
March 2, 2018, is a day that will forever be remembered by Jennifer Pickett and all of Boone County.
What started out as a routine arrest warrant being served by Lebanon Police officers, turned into a high-speed chase through the small town. The pursuit tragically ended with the death of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett, marking the first time in the department’s history that a deputy was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Today, Jennifer is encouraging people to Respond Like Jake. That’s the mantra, the hashtag for the Jacob Pickett Response Organization, and it is a fitting one to honor the memory of the late Boone County Deputy. That challenge is one that Jennifer chose when she officially created the organization earlier this year because, she says, it embodies who her husband was.
“Jake always helped out wherever he could,” Jennifer says. “I’ve had friends describe him as someone who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. My mom could call him and he’d go and change her tire. One time, my dad fell off a ladder and had to go to the ER. I was unavailable, but Jake was there with him for hours and helped him get home. He was always picking dogs up off the side of the road and bringing them home, too, regardless of how many we already had.
“He was selfless,” she adds. “He was a protector who loved deeply and cared about the people in his life and would support them in any way that he could. As husband and wife, we were a team. We made decisions and faced the world together. He was someone I could count on.”
Remembering Jake & Serving Others
Today, Jennifer, and all of Boone County, remember and celebrate Deputy Pickett’s life through the Deputy Jacob Pickett Remembrance Day. This year, the 2nd Annual event will be held once again at the Boone County Fairgrounds on March 7.
The inaugural event in 2019 served as a memorial and a time for the Pickett family and the Boone County community to heal and gain some closure after such a senseless tragedy. This year, the event will continue to honor Deputy Pickett but will also be providing support for another family in need, as well as plenty of family-friendly events for the community.
Proceeds from this year’s event will support Amanda Farinella and the Farinella family. Amanda was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last October. Her husband, Joe, is a deputy with the Tipton County Sheriff’s Department, and the Farinella family has always held a special place in Jake and Jennifer’s hearts.
“The first year of the event was all about sharing memories of Jake and who he was beyond the uniform,” Jennifer says. “Around the time last year that we were thinking about doing this event again and what the purpose of it would be, I heard the news about my friend, Amanda. I was immediately sad about it. But I thought to myself, ‘If Jake were here, he would drop everything to be there for Joe and their family.’ And my sadness deepened because Jake isn’t here. That’s when I decided to not only do the event again but start an organization that brings to life Jake’s legacy. Our mission is to help law enforcement families by assisting with financial tolls brought on by traumatic events and to help facilitate that support, monetary or not.”
The 2nd annual event will also include plenty of new activities for all ages including a corn hole tournament, a kid’s area with bounce houses, face painting, a photo booth and a DJ, a Red Cross Blood Drive, a chance to meet the BCSO and Tipton County K9s and more. The event will also include a silent auction for attendees and the opportunity to bid on unique items.
Merchandise will also be for sale for fundraising efforts.
A Heart for Adoption
It takes a special heart to adopt, and adoption is a crucial piece of Jennifer and Jake’s story. Beyond frequently taking in and adopting dogs, the couple felt the call early on to also adopt children.
The Picketts opened their home as foster parents on a few occasions. Today, Jennifer is the proud mother of their two adopted boys. The adoption process was being finalized around the time of Deputy Pickett’s passing.
“Jake and I never thought about how hard it might be,” Jennifer says. “We always just thought that we have love to give and there was a need. So we did it. It made us better people just by being able to give that love and extend our family. I can’t imagine it being any other way.”
As such, Jennifer aims to carry on Jake’s memory so the boys know who their father truly was. On the Jacob Pickett Response Organization website remembering626.org, which launched in February, visitors can find a “Share A Story” button. It allows people to share their memories and stories of how they knew Jake. Jennifer hopes to build up a memory bank of sorts with the stories to pass on to the boys.
“I came up with the idea because the boys were so young when we lost Jake,” she says. “They are going to miss those experiences of Jake with his buddies and reminiscing and sharing stories. I thought this was a way that people could share those stories, and I can collect them. The boys are going to be able to hear those stories about their dad that they would have missed out on. It’s also for me. After Jake passed, so many people reached out to me with their stories about Jake and some that I didn’t even know about. It was very helpful and heart-warming to hear those stories of how he touched people’s lives.”
Jen & Brik
Deputy Pickett, a Brownsburg High School alum, joined the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in 2015. He showed a passion early on for the K9 department and started working with his K9 partner, Brik, in 2016. Brik was alongside Jake that fatal day in 2018.
Today, Brik is retired and living at home with Jennifer and the boys. These days, the beloved German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix can sometimes be found going through the trash or trying to sneak a bite of food off the counter as he continues getting acquainted to home life.
For Jennifer, though, Brik is a piece of Jake that lives on and a comfort to the Pickett family.
“Brik is very important to our family,” she says. “He is, in a way, our piece of Jake that is still here on earth. Jake loved animals. It was his goal to become a K9 handler, and Brik was very important to him. Now, he’s settled in to being a lazy house dog and enjoys lounging around and chewing on things. He’s adjusted well. He does bring a lot of comfort to me and to the boys. They know he was daddy’s partner.”
As March 7 approaches, Jennifer encourages any and all residents and surrounding community members to come out for the 2nd annual event.
“The community response and support has been incredible over the years and more than I could have ever imagined,” she says. “I’m really excited and honored to do this event. We just want to bring people together, have fun and give back to the community.”