Deputy Harry Berger holding the plaque honoring his 40 years of service to the county. He also received a framed article in which he was the subject, written by the Lima News in March, 2017 - Martin Verni
Deputy Harry Berger holding the plaque honoring his 40 years of service to the county. He also received a framed article in which he was the subject, written by the Lima News in March, 2017. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

PUTNAM COUNTY — Following 40 years of service to his community, Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputy Harry Berger will soon retire. During a retirement party held for him at the county courthouse on Tuesday, Deputy Berger was asked to reflect on his years of service. Specifically, he was asked what advice he might give to someone just now entering law enforcement.

“You really should think about this career,” he answers. “You’ve got to really want to do it. It’s not an easy job…It’s got its ups and downs. There are wonderful days, and days you wish you wouldn’t have showed up.”

For those considering a career, Deputy Berger also suggested aiming a little higher, and pursuing a career in law enforcement at the state or federal level. Though he credits local police officers, specifically ride-alongs with the Ottawa Police Department when he was 18 years old, with spurring his own interest.

This does not mean he went straight into law enforcement. Deputy Berger says he tried a number of different things, and mentioned working on a bridge crew for the state, before returning to his interest in being a police officer. “It was just something I liked,” he says of his decision to become a deputy, “It gets in your blood, I guess.”

He also decried what he views as negativity towards law enforcement, saying, “People look at you, and the first thing they think of is that you want to put them in jail. There’s always the negativity of the uniform.”

When asked, he says that there is not a single incident that particularly stands out during his 40 years of service, saying, “Just overall, if it involved helping, you went home feeling like you did help somebody…Anytime you have that feeling, you did what you thought was the best you can do.”

Having served the county these many years, Mr. Berger plans to soon take-in a warmer view. He says that he has purchased a five acre lot in New Mexico, and eventually plans to travel back and forth between his home in Putnam County, and his property there.