This week I am honored to share two stories with you. These are the personal testimonies of two law enforcement officer wives (LEOWs), of which my husband and I are very close with their families. Right now there are a lot of politics in the news regarding the police and my goal of sharing these women's stories is to shed some light to you on what goes on behind that Badge. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement; and I believe that they are true heroes in our community that deserve as much honor as our military.
Saturday September 19 is Thank a Police Officer Day. I encourage you to thank one if you see him or her, buy them a cup of coffee (or a gift card) and most simply - wear blue that day. A great idea is to use blue painters tape on your car's or home's window.
This is truly often a thankless job, and as Melody (and later this week, Ann) will share with you, it comes at great sacrifice of themselves and often times their family too. Here's Melody's story.
We are an LEO family, and I wanted to share our story with you.
My husband wasn't that little kid who knew he wanted to be a police officer someday. He did feel a personal calling to wear a uniform, serve and protect, and for a while he thought of joining the military, but the decision to work in law enforcement came much later. It wasn't until after he started his career that he discovered his grandfather and great grandfather were both cops before his family moved to America. He does have Blue in his blood.
To be honest, I wouldn't say I was always an LEO supporter. I used to be more of an LEO tolerate-r. I was fortunate enough to not have had any real dealings with law enforcement growing up. So my first experiences with police were getting pulled over for speeding as a teenager. Consequently, I wasn't their biggest fan, but I still respected them. I also got the sick adrenaline spike in my stomach whenever I saw those red and blue lights, just at the thought that they were coming after me (I know I should have replaced that tail light... I was only going 6 over....did I remember to renew my tabs?).
But I matured, got my lead foot under control (a little)...
While in college, my husband and I had two personal experiences with police.The first was a pretty negative, actually. I don't feel the need to go into the details, but it was not inspiring.
In the second experience, an officer went out of his way to help us when our old car broke down. He ended up bumper-to-bumper pushing our car all the way down the street to an empty parking lot where we could leave the car overnight.
Not just his act, but his attitude, made a lasting impression on us, and I wish I had his name so I could tell him, that in many ways, he was the one that tipped the scales, and inspired my husband to start this career path.
So, while attending Western Washington University full time, my husband took a full time job as a security guard, working mostly nights, to help prepare him for his future career. By the time he accepted his first position as a full time commissioned police officer, his academy date was set for the very same day I was due to deliver to our first child. So, we bumped the C-section up, and 5 days after she was born, new daddy left for the academy.
In many ways, I was a single mother for my first 5 months of motherhood. My husband only got to see his baby girl on the weekends.
We now have three wonderful children. My husband’s schedule changes about every two months from days, to swings, to nights. The crazy schedule changes take their toll on the body, and I'd say he is pretty much sleep deprived all the time. He works weekends, nights, holidays, overtime and more overtime...Some people have a hard time understanding why we can't make plans in advance, or why he doesn't seem to be able to attend many events. Sometimes we have to celebrate Christmas in January. Sometimes we stay up till 4 in the morning talking, because that's the only time he and I have to catch up on life. Sometimes night shift sucks, and I can't watch news or crime dramas on tv because my mind will take me to dark places. Sometimes I love night shift because I can finally binge on my favorite girly tv show and don't have to share my wine or popcorn. Sometimes I take the kids to meet their daddy on the side of the road someplace, and hand him a cup of coffee though the window, just so the kids get a chance to see their dad that day. When we do have a day off together and go out in public, he is always tense. You can't turn off that kind of hypervigilance that is needed to survive in his line of work.
Every day, he goes out there with no idea what he will be up against: If he will get shot at, assaulted, or sued. If he will have to wrangle a farm animal out of the highway, or a suicidal person from the edge of a bridge. There are all kinds of people out there in all kinds of situations. There are people who will scream to their children “This is why we hate the police!” while they fight the officer and threaten his life. But my husband always keeps his cool, and he treats everyone with respect no matter what. He understands that people make mistakes. I am amazed that he has never developed a bitter attitude towards people due to any of his experiences. I hear his horror stories, and I also hear the stories of people who, because of his good attitude, end up thanking him as he issues their ticket, or reads them their rights.
It is hard work. And while I think I am a very capable woman, there is no way I would ever have the patience, tact, strength of character (and biceps) that he has to use every day.
Law enforcement is a very unique profession. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am proud of my husband for what he does. Our family life is different than some, but that's all this LEO family has ever known. It is who we are. I don't want to get political, but I will say it is unfortunate that negativity is so loud and infectious that it sometimes overshadows the truth.
Don't be afraid to show your support this month for the bravery that our law enforcement officers show every single day. On September 19th, or any day, thank a police officer! Send a card or a coffee gift card to their department. Put out a blue ribbon or a blue porch light, whatever you feel inspired to do. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and spread some kind words for our heroes in blue.
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If you are local to Skagit County (Washington State), please see this fundraiser: