It’s been said that cops can never truly know how many crimes they’ve prevented or how many people they’ve made safe merely by being present “on regular patrol” at precisely the right time.
Similarly, we at PoliceOne generally don’t know about the times we’ve positively impacted someone’s life. But every so often, I get to hear directly about the people whose lives have been made better by the information we’ve presented on the website.
This time, it was from a party we don’t often address directly — law enforcement spouses.
Focusing on Family
We spend the vast majority of our time here covering the threats and issues law enforcement professionals face on the job, and sometimes it’s easy to overlook the individuals you face when the shift ends.
That’s not to say we’ve never covered it — my good friend Betsy Brantner Smith has done a particularly great job on the topic of marriage and family — but the email I received yesterday gave me a better understanding of how we impact family survival as well as officer survival.
It also reminded me about the weighty responsibility of explaining the police experience to someone who might otherwise struggle to understand it.
Two Individuals, One Unified Couple
A law enforcement spouse named Cortney wrote this email to me, and I’ve received her permission to share it with you.
Here’s what she wrote:
When I first met my husband I didn’t understand his job or, more importantly, his language, and I asked him what I could do to learn about who he is and what he does. He gave me a link to your website along with his password. To this day, I read everything you put out. And I wanted to tell you thank you.
And how I got there is this: I was supposed to meet my husband at home for lunch today. I got the text message telling me he was “en route to the X.” About a half hour later I got a phone call from him saying, “Everything is going nuts; there was a crash, an attempted suicide, there’s a shoplifter at Safeway and a fight at City Hall. I’ll catch up with you when I can.” My response to him was, “Okay. Be safe. I love you.” He said, “I love you too” and he hung up.
No matter how I may be feeling about the job interrupting our life, I knew that was not the time to throw a hissy fit. Have I thrown hissy fits in the past? Oh, hell yes. Believe me when I say that I have thrown some hissy fits that a three-year-old would be envious of. But I’ve learned from all that I have read on your website that it was not the time to start peppering him with questions about what was going on and express my frustration over not getting to have lunch with him. I’ve learned to save it or, better still, let it go.
And why I started thinking about PoliceOne after the phone call is beyond me. My mind jumps to strange places sometimes, but I think it is because I thought to myself that I have really learned so much from the contributors and articles on your website about being married to an LEO and, for that, I am so grateful. I just wanted to take a moment to say ‘thank you’ for helping me understand the man I am married to and to, again, express my gratitude for the work you do on PoliceOne, as well as to all of the officers and their spouses who write in and share their experiences. If there’s anything I can ever contribute to the conversation, please let me know.
Through Cortney’s email, I’ve also met — via email — her law enforcer husband, Doug.
“We read PoliceOne [eNews] every time it comes out,” Doug told me. “I’ve learned more from PoliceOne through the experiences of my fellow officers than what any academy could or would ever teach.”
I’m truly humbled by these comments from my newfound friends, Cortney and Doug.
Making a Difference, Every Day
When people ask me, “What do you do for a living?” my typical response is something like, “I help police officers be safer and more successful on the streets.”
Sometimes, if it seems appropriate, I’ll add, “and happy and healthy in their off-duty lives.”
In reality, it’s both.
Perhaps what I loved most about Cortney’s email was (is) the way it captured an everyday interaction that could easily have gone a different way, inflicting additional strain when the job already does plenty of that.
The idea that PoliceOne — our columnists, our contributors and our members who are active in posting comments — have lent Cortney valuable perspective about the man she married is uniquely gratifying to me as an editor, a husband, and a father.
It also speaks to the need for quality resources for police spouses. We provide that, as do our friends at other law enforcement publications. Two organizations specifically devoted to assisting police families/spouses are:
National Police Wives Association — “Dedicated to supporting law enforcement spouses through various outreach programs, providing resources to those new to the law enforcement community, as well as promoting volunteerism and charity within the law enforcement community in general.”
Wives Behind The Badge — “Dedicated to providing resources and emotional support to law enforcement families, and to serving as a positive voice for law enforcement in the community.”
I’m sure there are others, but those are the two about which I am most familiar.
If you’ve had a similar experience to Cortney, I’d love to hear about it. Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.