The difference between your family and a police family
The fact is, police families are no different
In the past, when people asked me what it’s like being married to a police officer, I would shrug my shoulders and say, "What’s it like not being married to one?"
We live our lives and go about our business the same as everyone else. The question began to annoy me. I didn’t feel any different than anyone else.
The fact is, police families are no different. Each and every person on this planet experiences similar situations, but in different contexts. And these experiences are filled with contradictions, fears and perceptions.
People have bad days. Police have bad days.
When you leave your house and head to work, you have the best intentions, but you're human. You have a bad day, the bills are behind, the kids are sick...so maybe you snap at your co-worker, your boss or you flip off the guy in front of you. Even customer service reps aren’t always courteous, even though that’s their job.
So what about police officers? People expect them to always be on their best behavior and treat everyone with respect, but aren't they human too? No one can be on their game all the time.
People have fears. Police have fears
Police work is physically and emotionally damaging. They see death, abuse and heartache beyond what the average person will ever see. Every call is different, and there is always a fear of what’s behind the next door. And LEO children carry fears that their parent could get killed by the end of their shift.
That’s right, they could, but the dad down the street could die in an accident on the way to work. At the end of the day, what you teach your children and how you cope is as important as knowing that policing is a dangerous job. You can choose to live in fear or you can choose to embrace every day and live it to the fullest.
People can be portrayed as something they are not. Police can be portrayed as something they are not.
In the media-saturated days following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, I began to doubt what I knew in my heart. Being bombarded with so-called information about racist police and white privilege, I felt exposed in public. I began to see the race of every single person I encountered and when I saw a black person, my mind went crazy.
Should I apologize for something? If they find out we are an LEO family, will they hate us? Are they upset, angry or afraid? What can I do to help them? Obviously, the media perception of the police had begun to shape my perception of others. I had to give myself a virtual slap in the face and stay away from the news. What was being portrayed on television was not the reality I live in and I realized how destructive perception can be. Just ask the peaceful protestors in Ferguson or Baltimore. If you believe what you see on the news, they are all perceived to be destructive, looting thugs. Perception is not reality.
Police are no different. Some LEO families will vehemently argue that we are different, and in some key ways we are. But I don’t believe we should be promoting that message in times of trouble. By doing so, we are segregating ourselves from the non-LEO families and contributing to the belief that it is us vs. them.
We are just like everyone else. We are thinking, feeling individual beings and it’s time people started seeing us that way.