A reflection on the humanity of police officers and the need to support officers and citizens alike
By Community Contributor
And for the past 10 years, we’ve been a law enforcement family. While it’s a job for my husband, it’s a lifestyle for our family since most of what he does impacts us, too. His schedule, our need for flexibility when his schedule changes and safety precautions we have to take, affect us all. Police officers and their families sacrifice more than you might realize.
Police officers give up holidays with their families, miss birthday parties, doctor’s appointments and graduations, yet, they never complain.
Officers are Community Servants
My husband, and many officers like him, have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving their communities. While a lot of his job requires enforcing laws, he does so with the utmost integrity to help others and to bring positive change to those with whom he interacts.
What’s not shown on television or shared over social media are the officer who helps an elderly person across a parking lot. The officers paying for the meals out of their own pockets to help struggling citizens. The officers who go home late because they want to tell a story or give a high five to brighten one more child’s difficult day.
My husband, as with other first responders, sadly, see people at their lowest of lows. Many of the calls and incidents they encounter are of people in trouble or distress. Day after day, call after call, they see disturbing and incredibly sad situations. It’s depressing for him. Imagine going to work every day and having some people yell at you, call you degrading names, spit on you and sometimes worse. Yet, many police officers take it and help despite what’s said because they know you’re at your lowest point, and they want to help you.
Officers are Parents, Coaches and More
Please remember that police officers are human, too: They go to church; they coach little league; they’re parents, friends and neighbors. They are the ones in your community always rising up to help because their heart of service goes deeper than their job. They want to safely provide for their families and come home at the end of each day the same as you. They don’t want to be judged based on the actions of a few bad police officers. Good cops want bad cops called out, too. They’re tired of being guilty by association. It makes their job harder and more dangerous.
I used to teach elementary school and throughout the year, my husband would come into my classroom in his uniform and meet my class. He allowed the kids to ask him questions, he spent time getting to know them, and he wanted each of them to know that police officers are there to help them. My students loved getting to know him and most of all, they trusted him.
Officers Need Your Encouragement
Having police officers in our schools, waving hello to them when you see them, visiting them at police stations, inviting them to career days, going to programs and camps offered by police/sheriff departments allows our children positive exposure with law enforcement and opportunities to learn about their role in the community.
Talk to Your Kids About Police Officers
Many of us, including law enforcement families with children, are having discussions right now regarding race and law enforcement. These discussions will vary based on the ages of your children and there is no blueprint for having these discussions. Bottom line: if you are having discussions with your children based on loving and respecting others, standing up for what is right; teach them to love, not hate, and model this behavior for them. That’s the right thing to do.
For younger children, it’s important to relate your discussion to something they already know. You can talk about fair versus unfair as those may be common words in their vocabulary. Use correct terminology while also trying to keep dialogue kid friendly. You can also model empathy by listening to others even if you don’t understand what they may be going through.
For older children, have discussions where your children feel comfortable asking questions—that’s important. If you don’t know have the answer, that’s OK, just be honest. Learn, listen and educate yourselves together on every side of an issue. Lastly, be sure to share resources with your older children wisely.
Let’s Support Officers and Citizens
Whether your discussions are with children or adults, be open-minded. The current climate towards law enforcement is not welcoming. Sadly, it’s why I wrote this article anonymously. While many people support law enforcement, not all do right now. But we can still stand by those men and women who risk their lives daily to keep us safe and support people who want just and fair treatment from the law.