Younger Helmer joins older Helmer at PCSD
Brian Helmer always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but first he had to step outside of them.
Capt. Tom Helmer has been associated with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department since before his son was born, beginning as a reserve deputy in 1981 before being appointed a merit deputy in 1987.
So Dad wearing brown, serving the people of Putnam County is all Brian has ever known.
As such, Brian’s appointment as the sheriff’s department’s newest deputy on Nov. 10 seemed a pretty natural fit.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Brian said. “I grew up around this place.”
Brian has also learned a lot through 16 years in law enforcement, including the last five on the road. He started as an officer at the Putnam County Jail in 2001, moving to the Hendricks County Jail in 2005. In that time, he also spent some time as a reserve officer for PCSD.
With his goal to be a full-time road officer, Helmer went to the Brazil City Police in 2012, before making the move to the Clay County Sheriff’s Department six months later.
“I went over there because my heart’s in brown,” Brian said.
After almost four years in Clay County, Brian took an appointment with the Pittsboro Police Department, but found the work too slow. When a position opened up with PCSD, Brian inquired.
The elder Helmer approached both Col. Phil Parker and Maj. Dwight Simmons, asking if the possibility of his son being on the force was a problem. They assured him it was not.
Brian was also conscious of such matters, wanting to become an accomplished officer in his own right before coming home.
“My goal was to always be here (at the sheriff’s department),” Brian said. “But I’m glad to have gone over to Clay County to make a name for myself.”
Parker emphasized that Brian was precisely the kind of candidate the sheriff’s department was looking for in its latest hire.
“We ran this process looking for already certified police officers,” Parker said, noting that hiring a brand new officer means three months of field training while riding with another officer as well as four months at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
By contrast, Brian Helmer spent three weeks field training before being out on the road alone.
“It’s a benefit to both the agency and to the taxpayer,” Parker said. “We saved about six months of salary in which a person would otherwise be in training.”
Like other hires in recent years, Brian went through the blind selection process and “earned his spot to this agency,” Parker said.
“He went through this process and came out as the top applicant.”
Besides his years of experience, Helmer also comes to the department as a field training officer and a taser instructor.
“The last few years, I’ve benefited from different training opportunities,” Brian said.
And now is a chance for the 2003 Greencastle High School graduate to share his experience with his home community.
“His mom’s ecstatic,” Tom noted.
Married with two children, Brian plans to move his family back from Danville following the school year.
Of course, the homecoming won’t come without its challenges.
One challenge is for co-workers, as dispatchers and fellow officers have noted that they two men talk the same, laugh the same, causing some radio confusion.
More importantly, when your dad’s a former sheriff and a longtime veteran of the department with a good reputation, there are some big shoes to fill.
“Tom is one of tour most tenured employees here,” Parker said. “That guy goes out every day and takes calls, works as hard and is as consistent as any police officer I’ve ever seen.
“Tom Helmer is a workhorse,” Parker continued. “When you see that out of somebody, it’s easy to admire. He’s a good, good one.”
The admiring son sees it too, even as the two generations of Helmers share some good-natured ribbing.
“Since I was 12, 13 years old, I rode with my dad,” the younger Helmer said. “Even before my training in the last few weeks, I learned a lot from him as a kid.”
“So what he’s saying there is if he screws up, it’s Dad’s fault,” Tom interjects.
The two Helmer men laugh together.
They really do have the same laugh.