REED CITY — Being a little “under the radar” is a good thing for anyone involved in detective work.

A little “undercover” and a little “unknown” is OK.

For Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant George Pratt, it’s probably been a few years since nobody knew who he was.

He is quite the personality — even celebrity — in the Osceola County community.

Pratt has been around quite a long time. He is the longest serving enlisted person in the Michigan State Police ... ever. (At least to this point.)

And now, the detective is wrapping up whatever investigations he has left, clearing his desk, and preparing to hand over his files to the next person in line.

Pratt will retire on Jan. 31, completing a 46-year stint of service with the Michigan State Police.

For all intents or purposes, being a member of the MSP is the only job he has known. There were a few other things before, but nothing substantial since he set out to fulfill his goal of being a trooper.

“I didn’t plan on being the longest serving trooper,” reported Pratt. “It just happened that way. I love my work and didn’t see any need to retire.

“Now, the time has come.”

Born and raised in Scottville, Pratt began work with the MSP at the Ypsilanti Post after recruit school. Previous to this, he worked part-time with the Scottville Police Department.

In 1967, he was moved to the West Branch Post until January 1974 when he joined the Criminal Investigation Section and served in Detroit in the narcotics and organized crime unit.

In 1977, he was transferred to the Reed City Post, and has been in this area ever since.

Pratt moved his family into the city of Reed City. (He was married four years before he joined the MSP, and has no plans to retire from that arrangement!)

The detective sergeant has had a long career, by anyone’s standards.

“And it has been very satisfying,” he adds.

“I’ve worked and dealt with some great people — a lot of different people.

“I’ve been privileged to work with some fine law enforcement officers — local, state and federal.

“I’ve also worked with citizens throughout the community who have been very supportive through the years.

“It’s been a pleasure.”

But, in Pratt’s line of work, there are also ‘others.’

“Honestly, another good part of this job is being able to help put get some bad people off the streets,” he continued.

“One of the most satisfying features of my work has been closing cases and getting bad people out of the community and behind bars where they can’t do any more damage.”

And on the other hand ...

There have been cases that have not yet been resolved.

“Unfortunately, there are cases we’ve worked on for years that we’ve not been able to close,” Pratt pointed out.

“There are several in this area.

That doesn’t mean investigators haven’t done everything they could to bring vicious criminals to justice in those cases. It simply means they couldn’t get all of the required elements to move those cases into the court system.

“We may have ideas, but we don’t have the required proofs,” he said.

“I’ve worked on one case since 1977 - in Lake County - but we haven’t been able to bring it to trial.

“The Gamble Store case still is on many people’s minds in this area. We’ve investigated that incident for years. We have reopened it many times to use new methods or technologies that weren’t available back then.

“It’s frustrating, but I can say we did the best we could. We never ignored any avenue of investigation or tip from the public.

“We followed, and will continue to follow every lead. We simply don’t have what we needed to close some cases.”

After 46 years in the law enforcement business, there is nothing that surprises George Pratt anymore.

“I really don’t have time to be surprised,” he noted.

Now, Pratt is retiring. It won’t necessarily be the easiest of transitions.

“I’ll miss coming to work in the morning,” he admits.

“I’ve always loved my work.

“I took an oath to do a job. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that job this long a time.

“I walk away a little disappointed I haven’t been able to solve every case that crossed my desk, but I also leave knowing I did my best.

“I did the best I could do. Always.”

After 35 years in the Reed City area, Pratt and his wife plan to stay in the community.

“I hope I don’t drive my wife crazy,” he ended with a smile.