It has, yet again, been a while. I apologize. Life has been pretty hectic between moving, treatments for my autoimmune disease, work, and day to day life. So hang on, this one will probably ruffle a few feathers!
A post was recently circling around on social media and the local news about a police department getting "rewards" for writing citations, arresting someone on a DUI, or impounding a vehicle for no insurance. There were a lot of comments about how it was wrong and proof that there was corruption in this police department.. of how obviously they have quotas, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. It thoroughly pissed me off. The reporter in the news story has been on a witch hunting mission for years against any agency other than the one her husband works for, especially against those agencies that have broken from her husbands department and went their own way. Her reporting is frequently biased, one sided, and lacking serious facts.
This post is to allow me to vent, (obviously), and to shed a little light on the truth. I have been a police dispatcher for a little over ten years now. I have created some lasting bonds with many of the officers I work with. I know the types of calls they go on, because I send them there. I was the wife of an officer for thirteen years. I saw the toll it took on him.. how it changed him. How the job changed our lives, our marriage, and honestly, how it changed me. Not all for the better.
I have heard more times than I can count, they chose this job. They knew what they were getting in to. That comment irks me just as much as when people have told me God has a plan. I call bullshit on it. These men and women enter the police academy with grand ideas of what their career will be like. They see themselves putting on the badge, driving cool cars, and putting the bad guys in jail.
However, the truth is much more sinister.
Yes, they put on the badge. It is a piece of metal that puts a huge target on his/her back. This target has many different hunters. There is the hunter who's only desire is to kill. They don't care how, they just want it. They will do anything and everything they can to end an officer's life. There is the hunter that hunts for the officer's job because they are not happy with the officer telling them there is no legal standing to make his neighbor do A or B. And of all of the hunters, the most devious is the one that is hunting the officers compassion, his love for helping people, his belief that society, in general, is good and kind.
Yes, they get to drive cool cars with lights and sirens. But most of the time, it comes with a level of stress and responsibility they weren't expecting. They have to be constantly aware of going through an intersection with sirens blaring searching for that one driver that is not going to yield. Unfortunately it happens too often that they don't. With the car, comes the emotions and adrenalin most humans are not able to cope with. The average human being has the occasional rush with an exciting ride at Disneyland. These officers bodies deal with it day in and day out, several times over. Is it any wonder they go through burnout sooner and have shorter life spans?
Yes, they do, get to put away the bad guys... sometimes. A lot of the time, the bad guy gets away. An officer sees every type of scum out there. And many times, the bad guy gets out before they can even finish their paperwork. The bad guy gets a reduced sentence because the prison or jail is over crowded.
These officers have seen the druggie in the motel room so hopped up on meth or heroin that he cannot even remember his name. They have seen the young teenager who has taken her life because she was bullied in school. They have seen the domestic victim who refuses to file charges. They have responded on the wreck where a young kid had too much to drink and crashed his car. They have responded to these calls with dignity, compassion, and determination all the while putting their fears, emotions, and their lives on the line.
Yes, officers chose their profession, but it is no different than someone choosing a career in marketing, as an attorney, as a physician, or in a restaurant. These men and women have chosen this profession because they have answered a higher calling that many of us could never do. So before you say how dare they get a free car wash, movie tickets, or a gift certificate, stop and think that maybe it could just be a simple way of our community saying thank you to these heroes. Thank you for doing a job that very few are capable/willing to do. Thank you for handling these events in our lives so we don't have to. Thank you for making our lives safer. Thank you for being there.
Thank you for being MY real life heroes!