Another day, another dozen police officers shot and killed. I’ve read a lot of posts written by police officers and their spouses on this topic. Not only am I a police wife, but I am also a former police officer myself. Therefore, I think I have a unique perspective that may be a little different from that of most police wives. In the past, I never really worried about my husband while he was at work. Having once been in those boots myself, I always felt like I knew what he was doing throughout his shift. I always felt like he was safe. Not anymore. Being a cop has always been a dangerous job, but now it’s different. There is an outright war on law enforcement. It’s open season on our police officers. More and more cops are being killed each day for the simple fact that they are cops. My husband is also a Blackhawk pilot for the Delaware Army National Guard. People often ask me, “Doesn’t that make you nervous? Aren’t you scared that something might happen to him?” I always tell them that I’m less worried about him dying in a helicopter crash than I am about him being shot and killed in the line of duty. It’s the truth.
When my husband is on the night shift, he gets done at 4am. He sleeps in the guest room so that he doesn’t wake me up when he gets into bed at 4 in the morning. And, I don’t have to worry about waking him up when he’s trying to sleep during the day. Since I don’t hear him come home from work, there are a few things I check for when I wake up in the morning to make sure that he made it home safely. First, I always check to see if the guest bedroom door is closed, meaning that he is sleeping inside. Then, I check to see if he has left a pile of dirty clothes on the guest bathroom floor. Finally, I check to see if his boots are by the front door. I know that if something ever happened to him at work in the middle of the night my phone would ring or there would be a knock at my door. But, there is just something reassuring about seeing his boots by the front door.
When my husband in on the day shift, he leaves for work before I even get up in the morning. He often leaves me little notes stuck to the kitchen cabinet. He usually just says that he hopes I have a “lovely day” or asks me what’s for dinner. It doesn’t matter what he says in the note, but he always signs it with “I love you.” Each and every time he leaves me one of these little notes, I keep it stuck on the kitchen cabinet all day until he walks through the front door that evening. I know that anything could happen to him on any given day and I know that I will want to save that one last little note for the rest of my life. I will want to save that one last little “I love you” forever.
The best thing about my husband is that he has no ego. He doesn’t think anything about what he does for a living. He doesn’t do it for the novelty or because it makes him sound cool. He doesn’t want a “thank you.” He doesn’t want any credit. The truth is that most cops don’t. They do what they do for the same reasons that you go to work every day; to pay their bills, put food on the table, and send their kids to college. It really is that simple. Not every police officer is a police officer because they want to be a hero or because they think they are making a difference in the world. Not every police officer gets off on having some authority over someone. Most police officers are just people, like you and me, who are just doing their job. It just happens to be a very unique job.
Speaking from experience, I can say that most people don’t respect the police the way they respect the military. But, in many ways, the police are our military. No one ever calls the police because they’re having a good day. Often times when people call the police it is on the worst day of their whole entire lives. They need help. They need saving. The police are there to clean up the shit mess that you or someone else created. They are there to deal with the cluster fuck that is your life. They deploy every single day. Maybe not to Iraq and Afghanistan, but to cities and neighborhoods that most people would never dream of entering. How can people not have respect for them?
Even people who consider themselves to be pro-police are sometimes quick to disrespect the police. Most of the time these people haven’t done anything wrong and they weren’t even involved in the incident that the police are dealing with. But, they still treat the police like their own personal punching bag, like garbage. They are quick to assume that all officers are lazy and don’t want to do their job. They are quick to question a police officer’s actions and often try to tell the police how to do their job. They assume that the police are lying or hiding something from them. Unfortunately, this is sometimes also true of the police administration. Imagine not only being distrusted by the very people you are sent to help, but also being distrusted by the very people who gave you a gun, a badge, and some authority. Believe me, it sucks. It is often a lose-lose situation.
So, the next time you find yourself giving a police officer an attitude or questioning his/her actions, maybe you should just shut up and let them do their job. Or, perhaps you should apply for the police academy yourself since you seem to already have all the answers. All I know is that I’ve never tried to tell my plumber how to do his job. Why not? Because I’m not a fucking plumber. The next time you get pulled over for speeding you should ask yourself if you were, in fact, speeding. Chances are you were. Asking the cop if he has nothing better to do does not negate the fact that you were speeding. The fact that you are not a homicidal crackhead who just robbed and shot someone for drugs does not negate the fact that you were speeding. The fact that you pay your taxes and, therefore, feel as though you pay his salary does not negate the fact that you were speeding. Just be an adult, take responsibility, and move on. It’s that easy.
My point is that the police deal with people from all walks of life, day in and day out. The number of times they are disrespected or yelled at in a shift is appalling. If we want society as a whole to respect our police officers, then we as individuals need to respect them at the most basic level. If we want shitbag criminals to stop murdering our police officers on a daily basis, then we have to start respecting them and treating them better on a daily basis. Every police officer you may come into contact with has someone waiting for him/her to come home. They have someone checking to see if their boots are by the front door. They have someone saving their little notes all day in case they never make it home. Think about that the next time you come into contact with the police. How would you feel if you saw that officer’s face on the news saying that he/she had been shot and killed? Think about it because this is real. This is an epidemic. And this shit needs to stop. Now.