As a police wife there are things I encounter that most spouses do not deal with on a daily basis. There are all the dry cleaning bags all over our spare bedroom along with all the gear. There are the weird shifts that keep him away some nights. There are the stories of child abuse at the dinner table.
But the thing I fear the most is a knock at the door. The knock on our door that tells me that something devastating has happened because of his cop life.
This is not a foreign concept to me because of our time as an Army, family.
But at the same time it was different.
It was different because there is this illusion of safety and normalcy because he comes home every night at some point. I was lulled into a sense of normalcy and became naive to the idea of danger.
Key word being was.
Last fall, I was reminded that we don’t live a normal life when Tom was in an accident at work.
It has taken me awhile to write this post…obviously. I was filled with sadness, despair, and so much anger. I needed some space from it, and I have written and rewritten this post at least once a week since that day in October. So bear with me and my randomness if you so kindly choose to read on.
There were some feelings about the accident that were “normal” and foreseen.
When I received the call, my heart stopped when I heard the words hospital. I fell to the kitchen floor in tears and thanked God that he was ok. I felt guilty for not answering the phone the first time I heard it buzz. I felt panicked when I couldn’t go to the hospital because I had just put George to bed.
What I wasn’t expecting is the anger towards the community.
Here is what happened. Tom was responding to a violent call (with lights and sirens) when a driver stopped at an intersection, panicked, and then stomped on the gas. There was no time for him to react, and neither car won that. Both cars had to be towed away. The driver of the car walked away unscathed, but Tom was knocked unconscious, had burns on his arms from the airbags, and was sent to the hospital.
The news picked up the story within minutes and started reporting just the headline “Officer involved in crash.” They had the headline and the location of the crash. That was it.
From there, the community just ate this up and spit out hatred and lies. Within an hour, there were pages of comments, before Tom was even close to being released from the hospital. The things that were posted were hurtful if I read them about any cop, but to know that my husband was the “one” they were referring to was devastating.
There were comments about how he aimed to hit her, how he was going 100 miles per hour, and how he was just going fast to go fast and abuse his power.
There was a lot of name calling and vulgarity that really had nothing to do with this situation but seemed to serve as an opportunity for hate and pointing fingers. I get that there may be cops out there who do this, but this was MY HUSBAND they were now talking about.
The reactions on Facebook made me want to punch people and scream from the rooftops in his defense. I wanted to literally walk around town to defend him and let them know how much of a good person he was, and slap anyone who said differently. I also wanted to throw the camera equipment in the garbage for starting this sharade. Instead I kept my composure, and I didn’t really talk about it much until now.
First, whenever a situation like this happens, the police department will not respond immediately to the media. Generally, they will wait to watch tapes and do a full investigation on the incident. Unfortunately, this gives plenty of time for people and the media to fill in the blanks.
Second, you may never know what call they would be responding to. Just know that this call he had, you would want him to be going 100 miles to (even though he was not). Just saying.
Third, Tom was going 23 miles per hour when he was hit. The dashcam proves this. 23 mph. A far cry from 100.
It was a harsh wakeup call that while my husband is out there to serve and protect this community that he loves, that feeling is not generally reciprocated.
I understand that people are angry. Hell I am angry. There are indeed a lot of injustices happening. I hear stories nearly every day from my students of things they are going through that make my heart ache for them.
What I don’t understand is why people won’t take the time to learn the truth in ALL situations. Perception and reality are not always synonymous. It was so easy for people to jump to conclusions that were not based in the truth of this situation. I hope that people take the media for what it is-headlines.
Please take the time to do your research and ask questions before pointing blame. There are families and people behind these stories. Real people are being affected by these words and accusations.
I think about what if George had overheard or read those remarks about his dad. How would that conversation go? And this was a pretty easy situation in the grand scheme of things that Tom could get involved in. I now know a conversation like this is inevitable in this family.
But how do I explain to a child that the world hates his daddy? How do you frame that hatred when all his dad is trying to do is make this world a little safer? How do I protect him from hearing these things? How do I encourage my son not to be angry at the comments and to forgive those spitting hate? How do I teach him to let those things slide off his back, when I feel the weight of it every day?
But honestly, how do I assure my son that Daddy is safe when I am not so sure of that myself? How do I keep him from being scared? This is a real question because I have no idea what I will say.
That is something that haunts me every day. I have the illusion of his safety because he has been coming home every day, but he is not unscathed. The truth is, no matter how hard he tries there is a chance that he may not come home.
This accident was a reminder of that.
I am happy that he is in the job that he is in, but I do wonder if other people realize the gravity of this job and the weight that is put on the officer and their family day in and day out. I wonder if before their quick judgments they wonder what decisions an officer has to make to protect someone’s life. I wonder if they ever attempt to put themselves in an officer’s frame of mind.
I am not looking for sympathy, and I understand that we chose this life. You just learn how to deal with it because you love your spouse and it’s just something you have to do. This job makes him happy, and so we are happy with our life.
What I didn’t choose is that people would not be supportive of those who serve to protect. What I didn’t choose is the hatred. What I didn’t choose is feeling like I have to hide the true story because someone is out to prove us wrong regardless, so what’s the point. What I didn’t choose is my voice to be lessened because I am on the “wrong” side of an issue.
There are many people out there who do support the police, and I do see that. However, often times it seems like it is pulling teeth to see that. And as a police officer’s wife, that community seems very small these days. And when you go through a situation like this, you feel very alone watching the community unfold.
It is sad that I feel like I have to censor myself around people or feel like I can’t talk about certain things like this on my blog because of the way it may look when I talk about police things. I see how people react when they learn my husband is a cop. I fear that George is going to have deal with those stares and uncomfortable silence as well. People who say they have an open mind often do not want to hear this side of the story or they feel that I am trying to silence other stories by bringing his to light.
It’s sad that people shout about equality and injustices but yet aren’t willing to hear the whole story or every story. I just don’t get it.
Well, I am here to advocate for my husband and his life, so I couldn’t keep this story to myself any longer. This article says my thoughts exactly right now. Please take a moment to read it.
“Being a police wife to me, in today’s society, means being the biggest advocate and supporter I can be in order to give him the encouragement and strength to fight his way back home, alive.”—Melissa Littles
Yes. Yes. To the Yes.
There are injustices happening on so many fronts. It is sad they are happening everywhere and my heart breaks for those people and communities. And I do truly believe that we should be doing something about them. I will stand right beside you if you can show me all the facts and all sides of the story. I don’t believe you have to just pick one camp to stand in. I feel that you can have compassion for many issues and people. I am a big proponent of human rights and people having opportunities. I wouldn’t be in education if I didn’t believe those things.
But to be completely frank, today and every day, I am concerned mostly with whether my husband is going to come home, alive.
So I encourage you to have an open mind when you see news stories. There will always be pieces that you don’t see. And most of all, spread kindness around. If I learned anything from this is that hate is just fuel for more hate. The quick remarks of hate made me angry for months. I don’t want to be angry, so I have to let it go and understand that I know the truth and to control my own attitude. I can keep being open about what we experience so we can humanize the badge. I can keep advocating for my husband and be his positivity here when he needs it the most.