When people think of having an officer, or anyone that works in a precinct under the government, as a parent, they tend to highlight the perks of what that connection has. Perks like coffee every day, sitting in the car with the flashing lights, the look that comes to teacher’s faces when they see your father for the first time when they never imagined him being muscular in the first place, and suddenly he looks like he could rip someone in two (when you know that he spent his free time the night prior trying to reposition your Rick Grimes action figure so it was standing in proper form right next to his police car transformer), or even the fact you have your own personal security guard at the ready in case an intruder breaks in.
These all sound great, and they are! Who doesn’t look forward to coffee after a long day, right? But what people tend to forget is the pressure that is put in the household that is brought upon by the job, even when he’s off the clock.
The schedule starts when waking up Monday through Friday to get into school. The alarm starts to sound at just a little before six, but he does not wake up until six o’clock. Generally, this is how his schedule goes. Bathroom necessities are done- shaving, brushing teeth- and then a morning cup of coffee and listening to the morning news. Every so often, he will complain about the politics before him- be it a policy or a recent protect- but he manages to keep his cool. A half hour before he must head out the door, he begins to get ready. His uniform is compiled of a nice suit, because just a few years ago he managed to work himself up from patrol.
From eight in the morning to four in the afternoon, he takes calls in an office and files paper work. Sometimes an interview needs to be held and he will manage that, or he will be asked out on the road to take evidence of a local robbery that he has no clue why he is called on- after all, it’s hardly a robbery at all, but a loophole means that it’s on his radar.
Lunch is whenever he can fit it in, but it is always at his desk, which means he works through lunch as well.
Around four o’clock in the afternoon, he will begin to pack up to leave the precinct, but on occasion a robbery will occur a 3:55 PM in which he will have to take that as well, because just because it is near clock out does not mean he’s off the clock. This will hold him over anywhere from an hour to two. In that time, another robbery may come out, which pushes him back further. At this five o’clock, my mother and I can assume that he will either walk through the door with little annoyance at that moment, or he will be calling my mother with a boiling anger about how he is going on twelve hours and has not had his coffee but has been working non-stop until he finally pulls in at eight and has to shower before dinner and head straight to bed, only to wake up to the same routine the following morning.
But more often than not, he arrives at 4:30 and has time for his coffee and to get ready for the gym, because officers must stay in shape. This still means coming home at eight and having dinner at 8:30. Personal time is non-existent. This is for five days.
When he works nightshift, it’s the opposite. He wakes up at a decent hour, has a chance to visit the gym during the day and have his coffee. He does not start to get ready until four o’clock and he leaves the house at five. There is still the chance he must work over, at times putting his come home time at six o’clock in the morning, but more often than not, when it is predictable, he comes home at one thirty. This goes for seven days.
When an officer gets injured, he must pick up the slack like any good officer would. Nights in which a double shift is mandatory means he wakes up at his six o’clock morning and does not arrive home until one thirty. Times like this make seeing my father hard because of the conflicting schedules, and so I could go for days in which I do not speak to him and only know he’s home because my dog barked.
I mentioned prior how during his lunch break, he works. He works constantly and only manages to find slivers of the day to contact my mom or myself if we have a question or if my mother wants to check on him. Sometimes he complains about the workload in which he is behind on despite the fact he had been working nonstop for the past seven days with three days of double shifts, but sometimes it’s all well. There’s never enough work, and so he finds solace in his own hobbies on his own time when he can fit that in.
With the work load and the little time that he can make for himself, tension can boil in the house. There have been moments in which I wake up to arguments about his job, or to my mother telling him to tell his boss that it is just too much and others need to pick up their slack. He denies that, because he simply can’t, and that is all. There is no weakness when it comes to law enforcement, there can't be. Not on the streets, and not in the work place. There is not place for it.
It still remains obvious, however, by the frustration in his eyes and the tone of his voice and the slamming of objects into his bag and on the table that it is wearing down on his last biting nerve. He doesn’t have time for a personal life, or his shows, or to visit Cabela’s or what have you. He does not have time to sleep or even good work out. Being a police officer is an over time job when your partner is calling you to inquire about a recent robbery in your spare ten minutes of melancholy.
This does not take into account the days where he works protest, where they are hardly able to fend for themselves. No, he must wear his suit with a bullet proof vest years old that is too tight, and weighed down with the added pressure that if he was to be attacked, he could not shoot because it would be another media controversy that a “civilian is killed my city cop”.
This does not take into account the holidays he misses, where it had been a good few years since the family had all celebrated Christmas together, or Halloween, or Easter, or, the busiest of holidays- New Year’s. No, work is priority. And what is holiday pay? No, he can not receive that because he started working on New Year’s Eve, and not the official holiday of January first.
With the tension uprising in the United States due to both alleged and proven cases of police brutality, it seems that the country has turned a blind eye to the work that officers put forward for the better of the community. Not only the matter of fact of having to put their own life on the line every day, but the fact that the families of the officers themselves are also suffering in knowing that the authority is being questioned, and fatalities may ensure.
Of course, not everyone acts out so violently to the police, and not every police officer has a squeaky clean record, but it is important to acknowledge that every community has their bad parts. Generalizing a community does more harm than good, especially when the overwhelming majority of the community are good people with families and friends who look forward to them coming home safe.
It is important for people to know that officers are not a supreme being. The impacts of communities against officers only strains further on the innocent, and while the children of said officers do still love them with all their heart, it is impossible to deny the strain that is put on the house when the news displays violence against officers.
It’s important for everyone to note that it is a misconception that because of the authority officer’s have, they are not paid nearly enough. The house we live in is a starter home in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. I’m not complaining, because it works, but I know if we could have better, my father would be grateful for that.
Everyone makes sacrifices in this world, but it is rare to see those appreciated for what they have done for the greater good of the communities. Yes, there will be bad officers, there will always be those bad groups of people, but we can not forget the sacrifices made by officers and the families of those who serve. It is because of officer’s that we have a safer community. It is the officer that takes time from his family to help maintain yours. It is the officer that maintained the thin blue line between justice and anarchy, and it is time for them to be appreciated again.