Police work as a family affair
What advice would you give to a young LE family whose son or daughter is showing interest in the job?
Some professions just seem to produce more multiple-generation participants than others (butcher, baker, candlestick maker: probably yes... insurance actuator: probably not so much). Although it could be truthfully said that firefighter and football player are among those “jobs” passed down from one generation to the next, the two that most often come to mind for me are baseball player and police officer.
When I lived in the Washington D.C. area, it was the heyday of the Ripken family’s ubiquitous presence in the Baltimore Oriole dugout, with Cal Senor managing sons Billy and Cal Jr. It was during this time also that on the other side of the country, Ken Griffey Senior and son Ken Jr. became teammates on the Seattle Mariners. Names like Bonds, Campanis, Gwinn, LaRoche, Niekro, and Van Slyke are but a tiny handful of father-son pairs whose MLB service is notable.
Like those diamond legacies from America’s national pastime, there are myriad examples of law enforcement families across the country. With Mother’s Day only just recently passed, and Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to feature a couple of such families here in this space, and invite all PoliceOne Members who have a sibling, a cousin, or any other familial connection in law enforcement to share your story in the comments area below. Let’s get started shall we?
Two LE Families Speak
In the past several weeks, I’ve had email contact with members of a couple of law enforcement families. One of those folks is Sandra Lee, who while not sworn LEO, works in the law enforcement profession as admissions director for the bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at a college in Northern California.
“My son is a city police officer in Myrtle Point, Oregon,” Lee told me. “My son-in-law is a Sheriff’s Deputy in Napa County, and married to my daughter who is a Deputy DA for Sonoma County. I am extremely proud of the career paths my kids have chosen. They are all very responsible and caring adults, and their law enforcement careers are the best examples of their personal drive, their caring natures, and their need to not only protect their loved ones, but to serve and protect their entire communities.”
Another person with whom I’ve become email pen pals is Sergeant Renee Uberuaga of the Canyon County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office. Uberuaga, who has a son-in-law and a nephew in law enforcement, said to that the most rewarding thing about being part of a law enforcement family is “the closeness we share not only as family members, but we have a special bond that only the three of us understand.”
When I asked what was on the opposite side of that wonderful coin, Uberuaga replied that “the most challenging thing is assuring our family members that we are the best of the best and we will come home every day — not to worry.”
Lee added, “Because of the nature of their careers, a parent needs a lot of inner faith in their [kids’] safety. My son is a police officer faced every day with the dangers of dealing with serious criminals on the streets. My daughter is a prosecutor and is responsible for those same criminals facing prison. Retaliation is an increasing concern.”
Uberuaga cautioned further that while law enforcement is “absolutely the most rewarding job a person can have... always keep friends that are not in LE, have outside hobbies and interests. ...Emotional survival is one of the most important things in this career. Know the things you can change and change them, but know the things you cannot change and move forward.”
LE Families on Facebook
A couple months ago, on our Facebook fan page, we asked “Did you (do you?) have a parent, a sibling, or some other relative in LE before you? Or did you influence anyone you know to enter the field?”
At last count, we had more than 100 replies. Among them, Troy Summers posted, “My father is a Michigan State Trooper (Ret). He spent 30 years split between the Pontiac post and a post on the west side of the state. He’s now a probation officer for our county and serves the community as a school board member. His dedication to others is what's drove me into LE.”
Mollie Kat posted, “There are four of us. My dad, my uncle, my cousin and me...all for the same department.”
Michael Hipolito posted, “My dad, brother, and three cousins all in LE.”
Ashley Standridge posted, “I’m a fourth generation officer.”
Drew Lehman posted, “My father was a cop for 30 years before I decided to go to the academy.”
Dara Clodio posted, “My dad, grandpa, and uncle were all LAPD....I broke tradition and am an officer in Colorado.”
Like Fisher posted, “My great uncle, my dad, my uncle, me, two cousins are all cops.”
Sarah Hetherington posted, “I have an aunt, an uncle, three cousins, and an older brother in field. I am proud to be a part of my family and following in their footsteps! I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”
Katie Bartel posted, “My dad retired after 30 years with the state police, my older brother is an officer, I started dispatching at 18, my sister’s husband is a state trooper and my sister is a dispatcher. Oh, and I’m engaged to a police officer whose dad is a retired deputy sheriff.”
Let’s close this thing out with one more Facebook comment, because I laugh at it every time I see it. Chris Nichols said, “My uncle is a firefighter... my brother is a firefighter... I figured they both needed a hero so... I’m the first LEO in the family.”
Add your voice to the conversation. What’s the most rewarding / gratifying thing about being part of a law enforcement family? What’s the most challenging thing you face as an LE family? What advice would you give to a young LE family whose son or daughter is showing interest in the job? Post a comment below.