This past weekend two Topeka officers were killed in the line of duty. Last week, first responders entered an elementary school and saw things no one wants to have to even imagine. We hear about how these events affect the people involved and the first responders, but there is a group of people that is sometimes far from our minds and I want to call attention to them.
In every police officer’s life there is a family or group of close friends that is their support group. This is a group that understands what they have signed up for, so to speak. They know that each day their loved one goes to work with their number one goal being to serve their community and still come home at the end of their shift. They also know that when their loved one comes home, there’s a chance they are coming home with the baggage of whatever they have seen on that day’s, or night’s, shift. It takes a special kind of dedication to be there for their officers.
Personally, I have been married for 40 years and also have been a police officer for that entire time. My wife has said that the personal qualities required to be a police officer are ones that also make a good spouse and parent. For this reason, she considers the job a blessing. For my wife, some of the challenges meant dealing with shift work and the conflicts that caused with family events. These are things police officer families learn to work around. Sometimes it meant holidays like Christmas had to wait. Asking that of a young child is a lot, but the children of police officers grow up with an understanding of what their parent does and what is expected of them, as well.
Police officers see things and hear things they will never forget. They sometimes hold these things in and don’t talk about them in an effort to protect their loved ones. It is a balancing act that the family of a police officer has to endure. They must keep the line of communication open so they can support their officer without pushing their officer and being intrusive. When their officer does talk to them, it can mean that the family is now exposed to the same stress as the officer. The difference is, a police officer will sometimes hear, “Thank you for what you do,” while they are out on patrol. The families on the other hand, do not.
I recently told the officers that the job they do is extremely important to the health and well-being of our community. I want you, the families, friends, and colleagues of these officers to know that your support is extremely important to the health and well-being of the officers.
This is my thank you to the families. Your role, while often overshadowed by the story that is told by others, has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for what you do for your loved ones and our protectors.