The Return Story

Photo by Ashland Police Department

I have been attempting to write this post for a long time, but I really want to be intentional about outwardly processing Tom moving back into law enforcement. For one it is not just my experience, and I need to be respectful of Tom’s journey to get to this place. And with being pregnant and having Walt, it has been difficult to have the brain power to find the right words to say.

One of the things I love about blogging though is that it is an opportunity to share stories and perspectives. There are a lot of emotions and opinions around police officers, and I am cognizant of what that means. I am not going to touch on all of it here today, but here is just a part of our story.

To give a little history, when Tom and I had our first date in 2007, he expressed his desire to be a police officer after we graduated college. It has been all that he has ever wanted and worked for ever since I have known him. He has had many road blocks to achieve this and spent many years adding different experiences to his tool belt in order to be welcomed onto a department.

In 2014, Tom left the Army and we moved back to MO for what we thought was his dream job as a police officer. What would transpire in the next three years became a nightmare instead of the dream that he always envisioned.

What he experienced with that police department was the definition of toxicity. He was not supported by other officers, and it was very much a “good ol’ boys” system. He attempted to change the dynamic in the community by building relationships and being out there in the streets but often was chastised by his colleagues for his proactive nature. He didn’t believe in doing things by rank and wanted to impact his town positively but was told repeatedly he was wrong. He would make suggestions for improvements or find trainings to approach things differently, and the negativity and backlash that he faced showed me that this department didn’t actually want to work for their community. This department made him feel like he was on an island because he didn’t fit their definition. He wanted to be better. I am here to tell you that this is the kind of department that many around the country complain about.

But never the less, Tom doesn’t half-ass anything. He was always trying to do good and learn more, and the job became all consuming because he felt he had to prove he was worthy of being there and more than just a rookie. His fellow officers though felt that there was nothing that this new guy could bring to the table and tried many times to break him. He was seeking value from people who could care less about him. There was a lack of respect, and they were constantly trying to beat the drive out of him with very childish and outlandish behavior from those who claim to be professionals with “high moral fibers.” What was happening among his colleagues began to affect our marriage and our home life tremendously.

In 2018, due to the apparent way that this department spit on him when he needed help, Tom made the decision to leave this “dream job” to work as a court Marshall, which was still law enforcement but with 9-5 hours. It was an opportunity for him to still be a cop but focus on our family a little more which was very much needed at the time since Daphne had just joined our family. It was a chance for him to step back and reevaluate what being a cop meant for him.

After working at the courthouse for some time, it was clear that this job was an illusion of law enforcement. Anyone who knows Tom is that he likes to be out where the action is. He likes to move and observe people out in the community. He was slowly losing himself at the courthouse.

But because of the toxic nature of the PD department he left, he was not sure he would be able to get back in to being a street cop. They had basically sullied his name in this area because he asked for help and tried to do things differently.

The reality though was that Tom just wasn’t himself. As a family we made a conscious decision that if he couldn’t be a street cop, he would leave law enforcement entirely to be able to just be a family man and help us to become more financially secure in a different job market. In the end, it was difficult for him to wear a uniform but not actually be able to do the type of police work he felt called to do.

So in 2019, he left law enforcement entirely to work an office job of selling mortgages to veterans. At the beginning, working at VU was really freeing. He finally felt valued, and his hard work was being praised. We had more family time than we had ever had, and we were able to focus on more of our family goals.

However as the months passed, we could all sense that there was something nagging at Tom. Working a desk job started having him miss what could have been as an officer. There was a lot of doubt and anger at what had transpired in his time as an officer. He felt as though he had given up on himself and his dreams. It was like he was reliving every decision that had brought him there over and over, which made for some dark months. Oh the conversations we had about regret, resentment, and such loss…

Then the pandemic hit and the protests happened last spring. These world events coupled with being stuck working in our makeshift basement offices provided a pivotal moment for him. Not having the ability to do something in the midst of what was happening in our world (whether it be due to the pandemic or the social impacts on the protests) really touched him. He was frustrated that he felt helpless and wasn’t contributing to the solution. It made him angry and bitter that he let some old “seasoned” officers force him out of a job that he loves because they were scared of the idea of what Tom brought to the table. He challenged the typical culture, and for that he was blackballed and eventually pushed out of that department.

So why return to a job that did nothing to support Tom?

Again, if you knew Tom in person, being a police officer is just a part of him. For the two years that he wasn’t on the streets, you could tell that there was something missing. There was no doubt that we did have some great moments in these two years having more time as a family. However, something needed to change. He wasn’t fulfilling his purpose. And having gone through a professional crisis myself, I knew that just because our family life was good, we weren’t going to replace that feeling of purpose completely for him. Nor would I want to ask him to because I know that would cause more issues down the road for us all. I didn’t want him to continue to become a shell of himself or worse resent the normalcy that our life had become.

Tom did go to counseling for some time to help process all of this. Honestly, it was like the police department was an abusive relationship that he needed to heal from. There was a lot of shady things that occurred that I will not share here. Even now, two and a half years later, his old department finds ways to interfere with his professional life. At best it’s a bother, and at worst it has bordered on illegal. Before he moved on to a new department, he needed to put himself in a better position to not have those negative feelings of distrust.

Through the growth and self-reflection, and then seeing the events happening in our country, he was itching to get back to law enforcement. He wants to make our communities safe. He wants better for our kids. He wanted more.

Then a God thing happened. A position opened up in our small town, and it was like everything just came together. He was ready, and here was an opportunity for him to return in the town we live in! And the department was everything that the other was not, so we were hopeful for a fresh start for him.

It still was a lot for us to process as a family. Being a police officer’s family isn’t just a simple thing. There are a lot of emotions and things tied up in it for us as well. I still had anxiety from how our marriage was the last time, and here we were newly pregnant with our third kid. We had to be very mindful of how this time would be different for us and our family moving forward.

And the culture currently isn’t just something we could ignore. There is a lot to unpack here as a family who is choosing this life. This is not the post to address all the situations of privilege in depth because I wanted to set the stage of our lived experience. I hope that those reading see that by highlighting Tom’s desire to return to law enforcement, does not mean that we are minimizing how others are impacted by law enforcement. We know that there are not good cops out there. We have seen them first hand. It was the toxic nature that forced Tom out of the job in the first place. We know the way law enforcement is viewed and the impacts of that. We have many conversations about the type of police officer he strives to be. He wants to be part of the change, and we understand the realities and duty that brings us as a family as well. As much as we know that bad cops exist, we very much believe there are good ones, with Tom among those ranks.

Remember, when we first met, all he wanted was to be was a cop. I wanted him to have that again, and I know that he would not be himself if he didn’t at least try to get that back. When you watch a loved one struggle and you know there is an opportunity to fix that, you want to do everything in your power to make it work.

So last May he went after his dream again. After a long interview process, he was sworn in as an officer earlier this fall, and here we are months later.

Tom is different this time around. It is amazing what a difference some self-reflection can do. Couple that with a supportive environment, and it has just been amazing to see the stark contrast of how he comes home and the influence he has. He is surrounded by officers who value his opinion and actually listen to his ideas. While it’s a small department and different than what he had envisioned all those years ago on our first date, this has been the perfect position for him. It turns out that this small department offers many opportunities that a large department would never have done for him. This department hears him out and lets him be his unique self, which is really bringing the best skill set to the table. He is REALLY good at begin a cop, and to see that being noticed and actually respected by his peers makes things drastically different. He gets to be part of the solution, and that has been really cool to witness. I am proud to see it all coming together and that he is able to honor his values while in a position of service to our community.

We may have lost some of our family routines and our meal times together, however we got Tom back. He is much more present when he is home and happier than I have seen him in maybe our entire relationship. And to be honest, we don’t see his time away from law enforcement as a waste. The last couple years has helped put things in perspective of what is valuable for not only his career but how the right department can respect the juxtaposition of being a cop, having a family, and him as a human being. Because he moved to this department, he will have so many opportunities to engage in the community and schools where our kids will grow up. He gets to interact with them in ways we never would have gotten previously. He has goals for his career that are being invested in by his supervisors. He can actually be out there helping the community and getting to know their needs.

At each point, it has not been an easy decision to move and pivot as things happened along his career. One thing that has been important to Tom though is how this has impacted us as a family. We have talked this through every which way at every step: when to go to the Army, when to apply for many PD jobs, when to step back and when to try again. Ultimately for me as his wife, everything came down to what is going to make Tom feel full. It has not been an easy road. The decisions have put us to the test on more than one occasion, and there is a lot on the line. There has been a lot of growth for both of us on how we want to navigate this as a team.

However, I have known from day one that loving him meant I would be a police officer’s wife.

Photo by Ashland Police Department

Talks with Tom #42

When you add Tom’s wit with the randomness that is the cop life, I get some off the wall texts and conversations at the dinner table. Sometimes they seem completely normal, and other times they throw me off because it is so out there.

Here is one example of what I have received:

text from Tom

They have to deal with some pretty crappy stuff, and humor is a good way to get past some of it.

While waiting for a warrant, Tom was talking to a woman who was stammering, “I don’t have a warrant.” Then she started screaming out celebrities that she claimed to have warrants. “Donald Trump has a warrant. Bill Clinton has a warrant. Sheryl Crow has a warrant.”

Tom then stopped her and said, “Whoa you don’t talk about Sheryl Crow like that. She understands that every day is a winding road.”

That comment apparently went over this lady’s head.

On another occasion, Tom got a call from our cable company while he was investigating a case. Tom will answer his phone no matter what while he is on duty because you never know what is on the other end that he may need.

The cable guy wanted us to upgrade our package, which we have repeatedly told them we do not want to do. This person kept asking Tom to add more channels, and finally Tom got fed up with arguing back and forth:

Tom-I don’t want it.

Cable Guy-Well, sir it is free.

Tom-I don’t want it.

Cable Guy-Even if it free? (FYI it’s free for 3 months then they start charging you, but it takes another month or two to cancel it so you really end paying a lot for this free upgrade.)

Tom-Look, I am a police officer. I am busy searching for wanted suspect right now. I do not have anymore time to talk about this.

Cable Guy-I just wanted to let you know that we may have several packages that you may be interested in.

Tom-Sir, does one of those packages tell me where my suspect is at?

Cable Guy-Ugh no…

Tom-Then you don’t have anything that I am interested in.

And they haven’t called us since.

One in three drivers is hostile immediately upon him making contact with them. They are either yelling at him or cussing at him before he even has an opportunity to talk to them about their stop. Instead of shouting back, Tom shushes them so he can give them his spiel. Yes he shushes grown adults.

Our life is never dull. Correction…Tom’s life is never dull. I just get to ride his coattails.

In an effort to compliment me the other night, Tom let me know I was pretty boring.

So there’s that.




Shift Work

I get asked all the time about Tom’s job. One of the main questions is “What shift is he on?”

There are some departments that have their officers permanently on a shift. Fortunately or unfortunately depending how you look at it, Tom’s department switches every month.

Typically, he works four days on and four days off. Sometimes it is five days on and three days off. They are all ten hour shifts. However, due to the nature of the job, sometimes the shift turn into 12+ hour shifts due to the calls.

So it feels like our schedule is always changing, which as a family can be hard to adjust to some days. It is also not a job that is M-F. He works weekends a lot. So even if we are on the same schedule we may not have the same days off. It is super fun to make plans. We have been trying to have some friends over for dinner for the past 6 months…

Do you want to know what I think the pros and cons are of every shift? If not, then you should probably go somewhere else today.

Most of these statements are family oriented, but the italicized are Tom’s thoughts on the cop side of things.

Let’s start with my favorite shift:  the Day shift. This shift is from 6:45am-4:45pm.

Day Pros

  • Tom is home every evening. We get to eat dinner, do bedtime routines with George, hangout, and go to bed at the same time.
  • Tom can actually do Dad stuff and not be pressed for time to get ready for work. George is the most active in the evening, so they can actually interact.
  • Tom does George’s bath. I hate doing the bath, so it is nice that Tom likes to have that one on one time with Gdubs.
  • We have the same sleep cycle, so we aren’t interrupting each other. Even if he is up on the weekends for work, generally I am getting up at that time for George, so it’s not a huge bother.
  • I don’t have to cook for 1.5 people, so we have actually real meals.
  • Tom’s days off are more productive because they are a “normal” schedule to do errands or housework.
  • Tom likes to work day shift because there are a lot of people out so there is always a call or something to do. The shift goes by fairly quickly.
  • Tom also likes it because his sleep time isn’t ruined by court proceedings. Again this goes back to the day shift being a “normal” close to 9-5 schedule with the rest of the world.

Day Cons

  • Tom is super chipper when he wakes up. I need a lot of quiet time to warm up to the day. So unfortunately I am a little short and grumpy with him at times with my half-asleep self.
  • We get up within minutes of each other, so we have to take shorter showers to make sure we have enough hot water for each of our turns.
  • The dogs are alone a lot on this shift since we are both working at the same times. We have had very minimal issues since moving to this house, but it still is sad they are home alone a lot.
  • Because we are up at the same time, Tom and I end up eating breakfast together. This is normally when I do my daily devotional, so I rarely get this done because my lovely husband is a chatterbox and I get distracted.
  • Tom hates this shift because he hates the daylight. He has severe light sensitivity. Thank you Army.
  • Tom isn’t fond of this shift because it is really hard to be sneaky in a cop car when it’s light outside.
  • He also says that it takes forever to get anywhere in the cop car during the day even with lights and sirens because the traffic volume is so high.
  • Along with the traffic volume, it does make it harder to find bad guys.

Evening shift is the devil. It is our least favorite one, and I honestly don’t know how other people do this shift all the time. This shift is from 2pm-12am (Sun-Thurs), and Fri and Sat it is 4pm-2am. As you can see how that gets tricky when I am at work all day myself. But in the spirit of finding the good, I did come up with some positives for this shift.

Evening Pros

  • I get a lot of 1:1 time with George.
  • I have complete control over the remote
  • Tom always gets to work out with no rush to get home.
  • The work is a good mix between a high call volume (responsive calls) and self-initiated stops.
  • There is a lot of over time potential because of the timing of the shift and when things go awry.
  • We send goodnight selfies to Tom so he can still be part of our nightly routine. We have got some goodies. I should really put these all in an album.

Evening Cons

  • We can go 4 or 5 days without seeing each other. Granted there are nights that we talk to each other when Tom gets home between 2 or 4am, but let me remind you I am not the most engaging after being woken up. George literally will go a week without interacting with Tom. This will change some as he talks more and will be able to use the phone, but it is still hard when there is no face time for days on end.
  • On a related note, because he comes home when I am sleeping, usually I get woken by the sound of his boots on our wood floors or the dogs will inevitably bark at him trying to be a good security system. Tom then gets to sleep just a little before I wake up so I know George and I will interrupt his sleep with our morning routines.
  • Cooking for just myself and George is awful. Our food choices are pretty dismal during these weeks. George eats a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, and I have a lot of cereal. It is hard cooking for 1.5 people! Especially when one of them changes their food preferences every other minute.
  • Not to sound “woe is me,” but evenings are hard on me because I have no help in the parenting department when he is working. So where as on other shifts we can tag team, with this shift I am at it solo. Props to all the single parents out there.
  • I have to do George’s bath. I don’t know why I hate this activity, but it really stresses me out. And this kid needs a bath almost daily.

Midnight shift is not bad for George and I, and it is Tom’s favorite. The shift is from 9pm-7am.

Midnight Pros

  • We get to see each other every evening.
  • Most nights, Tom cooks dinner, and it is ready when we get home.
  • Tom still has time to do George’s bath as long as we stay timely.
  • Even though we get to have dinner together, once Tom goes to work and George is in bed, I still get some quality me time. Which is important for this introvert heart.
  • Also, I don’t have to share the bed with two dogs and a husband. The dogs generally will stay more on Tom’s side when he is working which is nice because they sometimes make me claustrophobic with their snuggling otherwise. They have to lay on top of me when Tom’s also in the bed.
  • The dogs are hardly every left alone since we are home at opposite times.
  • Tom is a night owl so this is the best shift for him with no daylight.
  • “Nothing good happens after midnight, unless you are a cop.”
  • Tom likes doing investigative police work instead of just all responses, and this shift leads to more time to do the self-initiated stuff.
  • The drugs.-Tom’s favorite thing to get off the street. They are more prevalent when it is dark outside.

Midnight Cons

  • When Tom is working on the weekends, George and I have a hard time staying quiet all day so he can sleep. We usually try to find stuff to do outside of the house, but it is hard to find free stuff in the dead of winter.
  • No one really understands his midnight schedule. The cable company will call at 2pm when he is sleeping. The mailman irritates the dogs while he is sleeping. The sun decides it wants to bath our bedroom in golden goodness while he is sleeping. So sleep is usually rough during this mouth because most of the world is inconsiderate to those who work nights.
  • Which leads into this statement-“You have tomorrow off right?” No he doesn’t have tomorrow off. He goes in at 9pm, gets off at 7am, then sleeps during the day to go back in tomorrow night at 9pm. Your day time is his sleep time which doesn’t mean he has it off to do your things.
  • God bless him, but on his days off Tom tries to cycle to our schedule so he can spend more time with George. (I have not asked him to do this. Tom just wants more family time.) Because he does this, he changes his cycle every couple of days which is hard on any body.
  • A slow night on midnights seem to be the longest days ever. They just drag on.

So there you have it. Just one couple’s perspective on cop life.

Changing shifts can be a little hard to manage. And I am sure that our pros and cons will change as George grows even though we may be more used to the life style.

I don’t think you ever really get used to being apart from your family. There are still a lot of things that Tom misses out on. I am not looking forward to the days when George is more aware of his absence and having to explain that. However, we have to be present and enjoy the times that he is off. And it does make for some pretty sweet moments.


As always feel free to ask questions about our life as a law enforcement family. It is interesting to say the least!

Through the Thick and Thin

Tom and I have been through some rough stuff. We have been separated by long distance more times than I would like to count. We have endured a deployment. We both have suffered pitfalls with our careers.

But honestly all that paled in comparison to the last four months of our lives.

Tom started in the Police Academy in January and just graduated this past week. It required a lot of long days of prep work and studying, and many nights away from the family even though he left at the crack of dawn.

These past few months have been hands down the hardest of our relationship. Granted we both started a new job, we have a new baby who changes daily, and two dogs who really are the ones who run the house. Never mind we also moved right before he began, and we are still not fully unpacked. So it really wasn’t all the academy’s fault, but I am just going to go ahead and place a lot of the stress on that experience. Needless to say we have been on edge for the past few months.

I plan to go more in depth on what exactly Tom had to go through as far as the classroom experience here in a few weeks. I just wanted to document the end of this experience.


Tom had his first shifts actually in a patrol car this week, and I can already tell the difference in his demeanor. It’s all official now.

I have never been so proud and honored to be by his side as he starts a career he is truly passionate about. This job is one he has been talking about for the last decade. It was just amazing to finally see him cross that stage and be able to be the one to pin that badge on him. It is a day we have anxiously been waiting for for so very long.


There have been times that I have not always liked this career and begrudgingly went along with the plans.  I didn’t want to deal with the schedule or the danger if I am to be honest. There is a huge impact on what this will mean for our family. It means that there are holidays that will be missed or needing to be rearranged. It means that there may be weeks where we only see each other sleeping. In means that ordinary day stuff like George learning how to splash in the bath tub will be missed. It means I will wonder every day if Tom will come home safely.

But I have had to step back and see things through Tom’s eyes. This job means so much to him. The way he talks about his community and how he wants to protect it, you can just see the excitement and sincerity brimming from his eyes. This is what he was meant to do while we are here. We only go through this life once, and we should answer the call we have been given. And for Tom that is to be a cop.

It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into after that first date, so I really should remember the bigger picture here.

In the heat of the moment, I tend to gripe and complain (a post coming soon about this), and I take a really negative view on how it is impacting me. (Which is pretty selfish of me as a wife and teammate.)

There was a quote in my devotional this week that really struck me. “I so desperately do not want to get to the end of my life to find I’ve missed having an eternal impact because I made all of life’s decisions based solely on what made sense for me and what was for my benefit–unwilling to yield myself to the Lord.” (Kelly Minter)

Watching Tom last Friday made everything click for me. When he left that auditorium on Friday as a uniformed police officer, I could just see all the weight of the last few years fall off him.  All that we had been there was finally worth it. This isn’t for him, and this isn’t for me. This is for something greater than us. We have an amazing opportunity to do the things we love surrounded by the people we love.


The reality is that both of us are living out our dreams. Finally.

Not every couple is so lucky, and it has taken us a long time to get here ourselves.

All the arguments, the sleepless nights, and the worry all seemed to melt away. We were in the place we are meant to be. Right by each others side.

We made a promise almost 4 years ago to support each other and be there for one another no matter what.

So while these last few months have royally sucked, it has shown us a lot. We can get through all the muck.

He is the only person I want to do life with.

And I will always cherish that I got to be a part of this day and journey for Tom.


George apparently is over all of it and just wants lunch.