The day that my husband graduated from the police academy was one of the proudest moments I've ever had as a wife. It wasn't a profession that he went to school for, or one that he ever imagined going into, but it's a profession that God called him to. The odds were stacked against him even getting accepted into the academy, and then with a wife and little boy at home (and one little boy on the way), he had to work his butt off in the academy to get to graduation.
I could not have been more proud of him! I still remember being interviewed over the phone during the application process-- the investigator had called me to ask about how I felt about him being a police officer. (Along with questions about his strengths and weaknesses.) The words that immediately left my lips were "proud." I told her that I thought being a police officer was such a honorable and noble position.
The day of graduation, I had the great honor to be the one to pin his badge to his shirt. His badge! That was the first day that he wore his badge, and I held my head so high that day as I pinned it to his shirt for the very first time. We were proud.
I wasn't the only one in the family that was proud in those days. Leeland was 2 and knew his daddy was a police officer. At the age of 2, he knew most of the words to the Cops theme song already... you know the one... "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do??" He knew that Daddy takes the bad guys to time out and he was proud. Now as he approaches the age of 5, he and his little brother play around the house and at the park pretending that they are police officers. (Most days little brother is pretending that he's a police doggy.) And he says things like "I want to be a police officer like Daddy." Proud!
As the years have passed since that first time I pinned his badge on, I'm still proud too. I've had the honor of being by his side watching him receive awards more than once. I've had the privilege of cheering him on in the morning when he comes in with a good story of the bad guy getting caught. I've laughed with him over how just plain dumb some criminals are. And I've been a listening ear when things have gotten tough or frustrating.
But as the years pass, no matter how proud I am, at every award ceremony, and every celebration, I've learned that there's a dark side to being a police family. I've learned I can't be so proud publicly. In fact, in many situations, I have to keep it a secret what my husband even does for a living. "He works for the city," is my response. Or if I'm feeling really snarky, "He's in waste removal." Ha! In all seriousness though, I'm having a hard time understanding when our culture became so twisted!
My children at the age of 4 and 2 understand right and wrong. They understand that each of their choices come with consequences. If Leeland hits Hayden, he goes to time out. Hitting is wrong, we don't hit anyone, not even brothers. There are consequences for your actions and they get that. But what I'm learning is that most adults don't get that.
Where does the disconnect happen between childhood and adulthood that suddenly when you do something wrong as an adult, it isn't your responsibility? It's always someone else's fault. It's always someone else's pants. How is it that someone can break the law and fully expect to not have consequences? But worse than that, not only do most break the law and expect to get away with it, they also blame the police officer. The only word I have for that is twisted.
I've never seen a profession be so hated. Sure, you would expect the bad guys to hate the police.... but even our own friends and family make such hateful comments towards law enforcement. It's just plain twisted. What was once right and wrong, now has so many gray areas. Where did the lines get blurred? Where did personal responsibility get twisted into entitlement?
I don't have the answers to any of these frustrating questions that try to trample on my pride as a wife, but I DO know a few things about police officers and the work they do:
-- They are men and women who are called to the profession. It's not "just a job" for them because no one works that hard for such little money for "just a job." No one becomes a public servant to "just have a job." These are men and women who do this job because they enjoy it and/or are called to it.
-- Regardless of what your ego may tell you, they aren't out to ruin your day. Sometimes tickets are part of the job. They aren't trying to be mean, they aren't trying to meet a quota, they aren't skipping out on "catching the more hardened criminals,".... just doing their jobs.
-- They're real people with real families. They are sons and daughters, wives and husbands, moms and dads, sisters and brothers. They are real people and they have real families. For many of them like in our case, this is how they provide for their family. And at the end of the day, they're just trying to make it home to their families, because in case you weren't aware, every 58 hours an officer dies in the line of duty. 58 hours. Every 58 hours, someone goes to work and does NOT come back home to their family. Just doing their job.
-- They hate the "bad cops" more than you do. I hear more than I care to about the bad cops in the world. Are there bad cops out there? Sure, I bet there are. No one is in denial of that. BUT, the good cops far, far, far outweigh the bad cops, AND the good cops hate the bad cops even more than you do because they give all the good cops a bad name and it's just not fair.
-- Most cops don't watch the news. And I struggle to get through an episode myself. The news never shares the whole story. In an effort to be the first and the best, the media often shares the "news" without facts and without research. This has become especially frustrating in the recent weeks. When the news became more about taking one side of the story and running with it, I'm not sure, but they can't always be trusted or relied upon. It's best to form your opinions once investigations are done and the facts have rolled out.
-- In addition to not sharing the whole story, the news also doesn't share every story. Only stories that are somehow decided as "worthy" (AKA pushes their political agenda). You'd be shocked to know of some of the stuff that happens in your city, your neighborhood, your streets.... again, the news cannot be relied upon.
-- An officers job is to uphold the law and charge accordingly but the justice system, in my opinion, is flawed. In the age of political correctness, fairness for the criminal and the best lawyer that money can buy, murderers walk the streets freely, the boyfriend goes back to continue to beat his girlfriend and the drunk will continue to be allowed to get behind the wheel over and over and over. The justice system should be used as a sword for the righteous, but instead has become a shield for the guilty.
It's not an easy walk that we walk. That my husband walks daily when he puts on the uniform everyday not knowing what his night will have in store for him. It's not easy as me and the boys shower him in kisses and lift up a prayer for his safety as we wave goodbye at the door. It's not easy to hear your own family make snarky and negative comments about police work, recent cases, or what cops should or shouldn't do when they know nothing of the job. It's not easy driving the long way to get through town to avoid your husband's beat so that there's no chance that your car can be identified by some thug he's arrested. It's not easy walking through a store as a family and hearing a parent tell their child, "Behave, he's gonna come arrest you." (P.S. Don't tell your kids that!) Nope, not easy. But it's the walk we walk every single day, and the only ones who will understand any of it... are the ones who walk this walk each day too.