Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Police Officer's Wife

To those of you who wonder what a day in the life of a police officer's wife constists of here it is...

A day in my life is always different.

For the first 3 years that we were married we lived in North Carolina. He worked two weeks of a 12 hour day shift and two weeks of a 12 hour night shift every month. I worked full time which meant that 2 weeks out of the month I didn't see him at all. The other 2 weeks we barely spent time together because his two days off were during the week when I was working. 12 hours shifts are exhasting because they usually end up being 15 hour shifts due to paperwork or late calls.  His days off he was exhausted.

For a brief 8 months my husband had an awesome schedule of  8am-4pm. I felt guilty because I was married to a cop and he had banker's hours.

My husband currently works 3 different shifts. Day shift which is 7am to 3pm. Second shift which is 3pm to 11pm and night shift which is 11pm to 7am. Sometimes he works several second shifts in a row and then a night shift. Or he will work a day shift for 2 days and then a night shift and then a second shift. Sometimes he works 6 night shifts in a row. His schedule varies every day and he never knows what day it is. Neither do I for that matter. But after 5 years different becomes normal.

A day in my life is always stressful.

I wouldn't be suprised if there was a study done on police officer wives and it found that we have grey hair and wrinkles at a much younger age than others. My husband is on the SWAT team. One night we were sleeping and we heard someone pounding on the door to our apartment. Apparently a SWAT call had come through and Daniel had accidentally put his phone on silent before he went to sleep. Daniel's SWAT partner had sent his girlfriend who lived in our complex over to wake him up. He left for the call. It was an ex-military person who was threatening to blow up the whole town. He had access to many guns and he was refusing to come out of his hotel room. Guess who got to be the person standing outside of the gunman's door with his hand on an automatic rifle? MY husband. I texted Daniel when he was on his way to the call. I said,"I love you. Do you have a helmet?" He texted back, "Yes."

Do you know how long it took to hear from him? Hours. Do you know how hard it is to to get up and go to work and try to focus on the task at hand when I still have not heard from my husband?

When we first got married my husband was assigned to Zone 4. Zone 4 was the most coveted zone because it was where all the action occured. Most coveted zone by police officers, not by their wives. Zone 4 as I liked to call it was "Sketchytown".  Zone 4 is where the shootings, stabbings, rape, robberies, and gang related activities mostly take place.

One night I decided to do a ride a long with Daniel. I had to sign my life away and wear a bullet proof vest. Nothing too exciting happened that night shift, but the next morning a police officer was shot. He was put in intensive care. He had to be guarded at the hospital around the clock because the person who shot him was now in jail. His family was angry and ready to seek revenge on all of the police. Do you know what is it like kissing your husband goodbye in the morning knowing that there are people who want him and his fellow officers dead? The tension at the police department was high for a long time. The officer who was shot wasn't able to return to work. That is just an everyday risk my husband faces.

Most wives when their husband doesn't return their call while he is at work assume that he got a very important phone call or has some important paperwork he is working on. When my husband doesn't return my call I have no idea why. I check my phone every 30 seconds just to make sure he didn't call and I just didn't hear my phone ring. I pick up the phone and dial his number, but hang up. What if he is in a dangerous situation? I can't put him in jeopardy. I then pace the floors. I do anything to take my mind off of it. People wonder why my house is so clean. I check the news for possible clues. Then I almost have a coronary when I hear a car outside. What if it his Chief coming to tell me Daniel isn't coming home tonight? Phew, it is just the neighbor! At this point I am in tears and I can't take the suspense for one more minute. I break down and text him. "R U alive?" After what seems like an eternity he texts back. "Yes." That is all that I need to know. He comes home hours later and I am already asleep. He climbs into bed and I roll over and squeeze him extra hard and fall back asleep. He has made it to the end of watch alive. I am relieved tonight. Tomorrow is a new day and the stress starts all over again. But tonight he is safe with me.


A day in my life is always strange.

Most wives do no think it is strange at all to find their husband's spare change all over the house.  A penny in the washing machine. A dime in the couch cushion.  It is the same for me except I find bullets. Bullets in the junk drawer, on the night stand, in the dryer, in my jewelry box, in the couch cushions.

Most husbands don't leave the house for work without their dress shirt and tie or their work boots and hard hat. My husband doesn't leave the house without his bulletproof vest and gun. I have also memorized the very distinct smell of a kevlar vest after a 12 hour shift. Thank goodness for Febreeze!

My husband has an entire double closet just for his work gear. It is filled with gun belts, kevlar vests, flashlights, boots, ammo, uniforms, and gadgets! I avoid eye contact with that closet at all cost. It is in dire need of organization, but he is very particular about me touching his police garb.

It is always a little bit akward when we go to Wal Mart or the mall and my husband sees someone he arrested. When we lived in North Carolina and my husband would stop by in his uniform to see me at work it was really akward when one of my insurance customers would give him a strange look. They would leave and he would inform me that he had arrested them. He didn't like people knowing I was his wife. Especially people he arrested. It isn't safe for me. I am so glad to now be living in a small town with much less crime especially for my son's sake.

A day in my life is always irritating.

My husband works most holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. I can remember watching many a Macy's Day parade alone when I was in a state far away from my family. Sometimes I would just do ride alongs with him so we could at least spend the holiday together.

When Daniel would be on his stretch of 2 weeks of nights I used to meet him while he was working at a restaurant for dinner. Nothing is more irritating than finally having 5 minutes with my husband only for him to get a call and have to leave before we even got our food. Or when we would actually get our food some random person would come up to him and have some "police question". Daniel being a slave to the public had to be polite. Did this person not realize that this is the only 5 minutes I have with him all week? Do they even care? No, because "they are paying his salary." Nothing is more irritating than people thinking that police are their personal slave. They call police because there is a snake in their driveway or because there is a racoon running around their neighborhood. They call police because of the way someone "looked at them"  when they were grociery shopping. They call police because they locked their keys in their car or because their 19 year old daugher fell in love with a 75 year old man. One lady actually called the police because she thought "someone moved a twig" in her front yard. People have no problem calling the police when their neighbor farts too loudly, but they are the first to complain about losing "their precious tax dollars" to pay for police. Here is a thought. Maybe if you let police spend their time doing what they are supposed to do (arresting criminals, enforcing traffic laws, responding to legitimate need calls) you wouldn't need so many police officers. Police officers pay taxes too!

It is always amusing when my husband has missed calls in the middle of the night from random people who haven't talked to him in ages. It usually means they got a speeding ticket or ran a red light and now they want Daniel to get them out of it. I love it when I meet someone new and they find out my husband is a cop. The first thing they say is,"now I can throw out a name when I get pulled over." The first thing they should say is,"I really appreciate your husband putting his life on the line to make sure my family is safe."

Nothing is more irritating than sharing your husband and your son's father with the public only for them to take advantage of him.

Daniel is willing to lay down his life for others and they are the first to complain about him taking too long to get to a call or writing them a speeding ticket or their precious tax dollars or his "demeanor". Shame on them!!! He's already saved an infant from choking, rescued someone from a burning vehicle, had to tell a parent that their teenage son died in a car accident from a drunk driver, had to tell a child that their mother drowned while on their family vacation, had to find a missing child on the beach on Memorial Day, been in a foot chase, had to search an abandoned building for a bad guy, arrested someone for drunk driving, been in a car chase, seized illegal drugs, been in a high speed car chase, taken down a thug, talked someone out of commiting suicide, been the first responder to a stabbing and a shooting, arrested a man for physically abusing his baby girl, arrested a man for sexually mollesting a little girl, had to tell a parent that their child commited suicide. And he does all these things before most people have even had their first cup of coffee in the morning! But they are the first one to mention that they saw "a cop in  Dunkin Donuts drive thru again." Cops are human too! They need coffee too! What else do you think fuels them while they save the world? Do you know why the "cop and a donut" story began? Because cops work all night and donut shops are the only thing that is open all night! Cops need to eat too! It is perfectly fine for someone else to eat a donut and coffee at their desk, but if a cop does it on the job  then he is "wasting precious tax dollars."

Please do not forget when you see an officer working in the street that he has seen more evil in one day then you have in your entire life. He is cynical. He is tired. He is under-paid. He is under appreciated. He doesn't need a thank you. He just needs a smile. Remind him that there is still good in this world. He is risking his life every day. He is risking to leave his wife a widow and his children fatherless so that you can sleep in peace at night.

A day in my life is always filled with pride.

I may not live in a castle, drive a Porsche, or spend my weekends at the country club. But my husband spends his days and nights dealing with people that the rest of society would rather not even know existed. I support him. I love him. And most of all my heart swells with pride when I think about how lucky I am to be his wife. He would die for a fellow officer without thinking twice. He would die protecting you. He made an oath to "serve and protect." He is part of the "thin blue line" that stands between you and evil. You might not even notice this "line" standing between you and evil unless someday it wasn't there protecting you anymore. His veins run thick with "blue blood." He loves what he does. He is my husband. He is my son's Dad. He is your protector.