Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Truth About My Dad the Cop

The Truth About My Dad The Cop 

Since there is a lot of discussion about police officers right now I’ve decided it is time to come clean and unveil information about my dad a cop that may reveal the nature of his character and that of other people in uniform that are so freely criticized.

He Cared
My dad tried not to bring his work home but sometimes he did. Like the time he came upon a scene where several family members, parents and children, were killed in a fiery crash. It really affected him. Or another crash where both parents died and a child survived and he took care of that child until more help came. Although he was yelled at and demeaned by others while giving citations on a daily basis he continued to do it since every ticket he gave meant someone would possibly drive slower and there would be fewer lives lost on the road.

Whether he was on or off duty he helped stranded motorists. He once helped a family from Mexico whose vehicle had broken down on the side of the road. They spoke little English but it was clear that they had no help, no money and no way of getting home. My dad at his own expense and on his own time drove them in his family vehicle from Utah to California which was a twenty hour round trip to get them home.

He cared about the people that he served in the community. He loved others and taught us, his children, to respect those around us, especially those who were different from us. He spent many hours serving widows in our neighborhood and caring for those who could never pay him back. He turned down promotions so that he could stay close to his aging mother and take care of her in the last years of her life.

I once asked my dad if he had ever shot anybody. I was a teenager and I was used to seeing a gun on his belt when he was in uniform. I was curious and slightly out of touch with the true impact of my question. His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed. He told me in a low voice that he would never be proud of shooting someone and that it was not something to talk lightly about.

He didn’t make much money
He worked holidays and late hours. With several children to feed he never was able to pay for college or purchase the newest items, but he worked very hard. We always lived within our means. While other kids had namebrand clothes, drove newer cars or had the newest toys, I had a father who taught me, his daughter, to be frugal, work hard, value others and maintain and fix minor vehicle problems.

It is great to see the youtube videos of officers buying groceries for people in need or helping others at Christmas but I know firsthand that many do it at their own expense when their own families may stand in need. They host “shop with a cop” days where underprivileged kids pick out items for Christmas. While this is a wonderful cause and enables officers to connect with kids many themselves also can’t afford some of these items for their own children. I would love to see videos where people in the community somehow surprise police officers with appreciation for their service and sacrifice or at least kind words.

He risked his life 
I remember the first time I realized my dad may not come home. I remember watching my mom at the table fidget nervously as she waited for him when he was late from work one night. It was before cell phones. I saw the relief on my moms face when he finally pulled in the driveway. For the first time I realized a sense of the danger that he put himself in. I spent much time on my knees after that as a child praying that my dad would return home each day. We honor our veterans and those who risk their lives across seas but we judge and mock those who risk their lives daily in our own back yards.

In his years of service he was hit over the head with a metal pipe, dragged through high speed traffic in the snow by a man who had just committed homicide, his family was threatened, his gun was grabbed while wrestling down a person who was mentally unstable and he was assaulted. These are only the things that I know about. While all of these things were happening I grew up hearing people make comments, almost daily, about my dad’s profession and how cops are swine.

This past year an officer and neighbor of mine was shot and killed on a routine traffic stop and an old friend was shot in the head by the same man on a rampage later that day. I have watched these families from a far. Crying with them and praying for them. Wondering about their well being. Knowing that it could have been my family or any family that has a member in uniform protecting everyone else. Honoring their sacrifice I have wondered what these families have thought as recent events unfold. Some people so easily criticize police officers when they know nothing that goes into being an officer or a member of an officer's family.

He helped people in their darkest hours
When I was six years old a high speed chase ended in a crash in front of my house only yards from where a friend and I were playing. I remember the sound of the collision and seeing the pursuing car speed away. A man stumbled out of the car with his shirt torn, chest bare and covered in blood. I remember the terrified look in his eyes and the sound of his shaking voice as he came towards me and asked If my dad was home. He was being chased by a group of men that were trying to kill him. When he saw my dads police car parked in our driveway he knew it was his only chance to get help. As a six year old little girl I got to see what my dad did all day and the look in the face of those who are in desperate need of protection.

My dad was the first on the scene of a terrible airplane crash where several people died. He once saved a child at the circus and offered to pray with a man who was dying at another crash. He was there in the darkest hours for some and the last minutes of others. These men are not machines, they are human beings who are the only barrier that stands between the innocent and the self serving and the murderous. Without them our existence would be much different and desperate. I have lived in third world countries where I feared daily for my safety. I saw the chaos and evil brutality that unfolds when there is not a proper police force. It is not something I want for myself or my children.

The greatest prejudice that I see unfolding is from those who claim all or even most officers are prejudice. The greatest irony are those who try to accuse the heroes who stand in their way of criminal behavior. There are men and women that risk their lives daily to save ours and we disrespect them, judge them and claim excessive force while others kill and threaten them daily and we take little thought of the physical, emotional and financial burdens that they bare so that we can live the way we do, in peace.

Next time you see a police officer or criticize him remember that he may have a 6 year old daughter waiting for him and praying for him at home. That he may have just drove 20 hours to help a family that he didn’t know and that was not of his ethnicity or culture. That he might have just watched the last of an entire family die and wondered if by giving just one more ticket he could have prevented it. He may have just been assaulted yet again or spit on by a criminal who has threatened his family. Remember that he may not be able to afford college, Christmas or lunch money for his kids and that the government won’t even dish out bulletproof windshields to protect him because seemingly “unharmful” criticism makes politicians skittish and fuels mobs who will kill the father of a family to get a high five from a fellow gang member.

No child should have to explain to a friend that their father is not a “pig” and that term is derogatory, all while fearing for her father’s life every time he goes to work to protect others. No wife should know that her husband is being hunted because of the purest form and definition of prejudice against him. Instead, give an officer a kind word or a respectable nod. Appreciate his or her sacrifice, uphold him in his service as he gives a piece of himself and possibly his future or the future of his family that can never be restored. Honor our officers because the real truth about them would make all of us appreciate and honor them much more.

- Susan

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