By Thonie Hevron
Too many law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2013. One is too many but thirteen is unfathomable. And we’re only in mid-March.
of the El Paso, Tx Police Department End of Watch March 14, 2016
Peace Officers Down Memorial Page offers statistic that are difficult to believe. Taken from FBI statistics drawn from every police agency in the US, they are a sobering reminder of the inherent peril in this work. Few men and women can do this job with the alertness and cognition it requires–twenty-four hours a day. Cops are never off duty. Badges and guns may be put away but a warrior mindset must always be present. It’s like a sneaker wave at the beach–nine times out of ten, it’s okay to turn your back, but the tenth wave can kill you.
The effects of a career last a lifetime–PTSD is almost a cliche but honestly, we live with it day in and day out. Every cop, every emergency worker (I know because my husband is a retired fire fighter) has ghosts that will forever haunt us. There is no laying them to rest, closure is an illusion. Turning away has been my coping mechanism–remembering the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment when an incident went right ( I’ll never forget a hug from an officer and close friend when only he and I–in dispatch–were on duty. He had a particularly dangerous pursuit that ended safely with a solid arrest due to the fact that we both did our jobs well–that hug was a highlight of my career), acknowledging the adrenaline spurt and excitement is satisfying enough.
Standing in the rain directing traffic around flooded streets during two El Nino events, smelling the airborn toxins as I drove up to a burning house, being nervous as hell doing CPR on an old man who fell off a ladder are memories that make me who I am. All of us have these memories and worse–I was a civilian Community Services Officer for seven years before I traded the uniform for the climate controlled chaos of dispatch. I saw but a small slice of the life on the streets.
Those of you who wear or have worn the badge, get it. Those of you who don’t, count your blessings that there are those people out there who love this job. It can’t be done well if they don’t.
All know this could be their last day, but do it anyway.