The Battle Behind the Badge: A Law Enforcement Marriage Conference
There’s one thing about it … marriage is a whole new adventure, should we say … that we embark on with fantasy-laden ideas of bliss, romance and foreverness. But being in a law enforcement marriage takes this “adventure” and those descriptors a whole new direction, often foreign to those outside the blue line.
So now, for the understatement of the year: Marriage is tough. So tough. It’s hard for the common couple but add the stresses of being a law enforcement family to the mix and it can be defeating, overwhelming and lonely.
“We all know that the divorce rate for the nation sits right at about 50%, but did you know that the rate for officers is 60-70%? Staggering number when you really consider it. Approximately one quarter of the officers who are married will still be married to that same spouse at the end of their careers. One quarter.” (Law Enforcement Officer, 2013).
Police officers going through a divorce are five times more likely to commit suicide than that of an officer in a stable marriage (heavybadge.com). And “according to the National Center for Women and Policing, 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, whereas families not involved in police work make up 10 percent of domestic violence cases” (Kewish & Cabrero, 2014).
Law enforcement family – we have serious problems amongst us.
Officers, you have hearts of gold that lay down lives for your fellow Americans. And spouses, you have the strength and fortitude of a warrior carrying on the work at home. But are we thriving behind closed doors?
These are gut-wrenching statistics and sobering facts. We are destroying our marriages, our lives and God help us, our children, leaving them in the wake of our wreckage. While we are out serving and protecting others and meeting everyone else’s needs, we are too quickly dismissing and neglecting our own loved ones. We must begin examining our hearts for all the ways we have fallen short, we must invest time in our marriages, we must shepherd our children’s heart towards Christ and get right with our Creator, through the hope of salvation that only He offers to our weary sin-soaked souls.
But there is hope and here’s an opportunity that will help you right the course in your life, gain practical insight into the unique challenges we face in law enforcement marriage (with your spouse sitting next to you), learn more about getting at the heart of your children rather than just correcting their behavior and beginning to focus vertically as you encounter Christ.
In November 2014, my LEO husband and I attended a law enforcement marriage conference outside of St. Louis presented by Badge of Hope Ministries with founders Rick and Kristi Neace. It changed so much for us by helping us understand the craziness, darkness, difficulty and incredible level of commitment it would take to keep us together.
Fast forward to now as our team prepares, here in Kansas City, to host our 4th Annual Badge of Hope Law Enforcement Conference: Battle Behind the Badge.
The demands of this profession are tremendous and we recognize the fact that if an officer is experiencing trouble at home, it will eventually affect the work he/she is doing within the department. Problems such as depression, lack of concentration and elevated stress from a broken marriage can lead to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence and even suicide (as evidenced above). It is our desire to offer hope and peer support to our law enforcement families and give them simple tools to combat the issues. The Neace’s deserve the credit for these law enforcement marriage conferences; it was their brainchild and I’m privileged to direct the KC chapter.
This one-day event will feature nationally-renowned Deputy Jonathan Parker of Hamilton County, TN (Covered Law Enforcement), Captain Jim Sutterby of Overland Park, KS PD as well as a breakout session just for the gals by author/speaker/LEOW Kristi Neace with Badge of Hope Ministries. Previous presenters have included Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (Ret.), Police Chaplain Jim Bontrager (USMC Ret.), Lt. MC Williams (CO), Dep. Tim Rupp (ID) amongst others. We have had well over 10 states represented and 65 agencies from all across the United States.
Here are a few testimonials:
“Words cannot express how grateful we and many others are for your passion and drive to make the BOH Conference come alive! Thank you for standing up for marriage and encouraging and helping others Fight for their Marriage! Thank you for sharing the truth, your testimony and inviting others to surrender. Perfect ending to a blessed weekend! Love and prayers to you all!” – Salina, KS PD wife
“Hubs and I had the privilege to attend a marriage seminar today for Law Enforcement [put on by Badge of Hope Ministries. Wow…what an awesome experience! Marriage is worth the fight…every time. It is not disposable as society would have us believe. Blessed to be married to my best friend who is my partner…we’re working on it. God is our glue that holds us through the ugly times.” – Unnamed wife of St. Louis County Sherriff’s Deputy, who served on the front lines over 20 midnight shifts in a row in Ferguson during the riots
In closing, we as a law enforcement family must respond as urgently to our battles behind the badge as we do the battles while wearing the badge, for these sins are capturing our homes and taking our marriages and families hostage within our own walls. In God’s sovereign design, He put you and your spouse together perfectly. Keep him at the center of your marriage, for a chord of 3 strands is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:12). And take heart; there is hope in Christ (John 16:33), healing for your marriage and redemption for your relationships…see you in KC in July!
– Heidi Hogan, MSN RN CCRN, Badge of Hope Board Member and police wife. She is also an avid supporter of the thin blue line and encourager of LEOWs. She is a devoted Christ follower, a wife to her officer and mama to their two boys. She is a homemaker and home school mom, a master’s prepared critical care RN and is an active member of Harvest Bible Chapel KC and FCPO. Moreover, she is part of Kansas 10-33 Foundation Advisory Council, and can be heard on Bott Radio and The Watch Your 6 Podcast…loving on law enforcement families.