The Law Enforcement Officer, Spouse and Family

It seems I spend my life waiting for him to come home or call. He’s always working hard to serve and protect the public, provide for his family, and keep a commitment to an oath. This is not taken lightly, as once you become an officer, you are forever married to the job. It’s hard to return civilian. Being an officer changes who you are and how you think, now and in the future.

But, they are stereotyped, standardized, characterized, classified, grouped and always typical. Everyone’s quick to judge the officer. You have no use for them, but it’s okay if he changes a flat tire for your stranded wife, deliver your child in the back of a car, save your kid’s life with CPR or work overtime searching for your lost daughter. You complain if they’re driving too fast to a call, but raise hell when they are 10 seconds late responding to your complaint.

They put their life on the line daily for complete strangers. They rarely receive a thank you, yet they don’t expect it . . . it’s part of their job.

When they go 10-7 and until they go 10-8, they are there to help and make sure everyone is obeying the laws. City police, Sheriff’s deputies, Marshal’s, Department of Public Safety, BLM Rangers, NPS Law Enforcement, Fish and Game, State Troopers, BIA, and all alike are sisters and brothers of the law.

They get dressed, put on that bulletproof vest and badge and most kiss their family goodbye, never knowing when it could be the last time. If you live in the city, an officer may have backup within minutes, a partner, and a never fail radio to dispatch. If you’re rural, most don’t have backup nearby, a partner in the next seat, or even radio or cell service.

Their training and guns are the backup. They may have blacktop or just straight dirt roads. When it comes to the dirt, the game warden knows. The game warden patrols hunts, watches for hunting, fishing, boating, OHV, and traffic violations. They spend many hours on court cases, paperwork, investigations, emails, phone calls, flight surveys, helping ranchers and allotment owners among other things.

The hours are long, the pay is short but he loves what he does and is full of heart. The game warden is often outnumbered, in people and guns. If you have all your paperwork, licenses and such, you’ll thank him so much and ask for his help. If you tag the wrong deer, or don’t have a license, or shoot for your child in a junior’s hunt and get caught, he’s the a-hole because he has to educate and give you citations and possibly see you in court. He’s doing his job, but people can’t wait to see him leave.

They and other law enforcement give tickets for riding double on quads, no helmets, DUI/BUI, speeding, and more. It’s annoying, you were just having fun and they had to ruin your day. You will now have to pay a fine or be locked up. But, you don’t think of them as protecting you and your loved ones lives. No, they just care about themselves. They just love to write the ticket. They never have to deal with accidents involving children, or adults. Alcohol may or may not be a factor. They’ve never seen children clinging on to life, being life-flighted to the nearest hospital, work a fatality involving teens, or find a missing person who is freezing in the middle of the night. No, not them . . . that can’t be right.

The spouses and family are such a big part. They stand behind their officer, smile, and may place their hand over their heart. You try not to worry, it’ll ruin your life. We are strong, proud, and have to be independent. We make dinner, but they may come home late. There’s no “off at 5” around here at night.

We are often alone on major holidays, attend school and sport functions alone. We maintain the house, children, lives, work, sitters, and more. We may get angry, worry and fret. Most spouses don’t have to worry about calling dispatch because your other half is not home when they said they’d be.

We are proud and supportive, but we can get weak. It’s hard to sleep until you know they’re home safe. Our officers omit details and events for our best. We couldn’t stand to hear every threat. It can hurt or even scare, but people don’t care.

They see the officer as arrogant, ruthless, and just a plain jerk. You don’t see him as married or a family man. You don’t know he has little children at home ever expecting his return, asking, “Where’s daddy? Why isn’t he home? Why does daddy arrest bad guys?” We want him home safe, everyday. Daddy loves to cook, clean and play. Daddy will play princess and have tea parties all day. He’s trained to never become complacent, always watching his back, watching how he approaches fellow man and vehicles.

So, yes, he may be a jerk. If you’re nice, he will most likely return the favor. You escalate the problem, he further protects himself. He can write warnings, but sometimes has to write citations. He’s just doing his job, but if you cheat and lie at your work would you expect to keep it? He has education and training, but you think you know more. He just laughs and goes on with his day. And tomorrow, it’ll start all over again and you never know what’s in store.

There will always be people who “hate the police.” We can’t take it personal.

They just don’t understand and never will. They are real people, just like you and I. They are held to a higher standard and deserve respect. They don’t think they’re perfect, despite what you think. And at the end of the day, all we want is our officer-husband-daddy-best friend and more to come home safely and always be there.

– Desiree J. Felish

(File photo)