Wives Badge the Badge is a fantastic organization and a great resource. They have a lot of programs for LEO families and do incredible work. Check ’em out! I was the 2011 recipient of their ‘Law Enforcement Spouses” scholarship. Below is my winning essay…
‘What Does it Mean to be a Law Enforcement Spouse?’
Being a law enforcement spouse means many things. Among those being sleepless nights and learning to sleep alone while your officer works the midnight shift. It means celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas on whatever day your officer isn’t working or celebrating without them. It means accommodating crazy schedules and shift work and overtime. It means your marriage is 60% more prone to divorce than your non-law enforcement friend’s marriages so you have to really work at it. It means missed birthday parties, interrupted dinners and last-minute changes to plans. It means accepting that every time you go out in public with your officer, he will be recognized: recognized by those he works with, those he’s helped, and by those he’s arrested and fought with. It means worrying every time he leaves for another shift that he might not get to come home to you; that when he hugs your children goodbye and kisses you on his way out the door, it might just be the last time.
So why on Earth would anyone choose such a lifestyle you may ask? The reason is pretty simple actually. Because beyond all of those other things, being a law enforcement spouse also means that you are married to the kind of person who would lay their life on the line for another and being a part of something bigger than yourself. You are the backbone that supports those who protect and serve. You are the reason they go out and do what they do and you are the reason they fight to come home. In addition to all of the obstacles law enforcement families must hurdle, being married to a cop means more. It means being part of a huge family that takes care of its own like no other. And it means having the distinct honor of calling a hero your husband.
As a former civilian 911 dispatcher it’s in my nature to respect law enforcement officers and what they do. But even the dispatcher in me has to stop in awe of my husband and what he does day in and day out. Law enforcement isn’t just a job; it’s a way of life. And making the choice to take on that profession as an individual is a big decision. But that decision is amplified when the choice involves bringing your family along for the ride. My husband wasn’t a cop when we first met. He wasn’t even a cop when we got married. But when he decided that this might be the life he wanted to live he left the final decision up to me. He told me he knew it was a profession that he simply could not manage without me standing behind him.
I left my job as a dispatcher to stay home with our son while my husband was away at the police academy for five months. It was a sacrifice to leave a job I loved so much and an extremely tough decision to make but one that was necessary for the sake of our family. Now that my husband has been working patrol for a few years I’ve returned to work, though not as a dispatcher. In order to accommodate his shift work I’ve moved into an administrative position. Again, this was a decision we made together to be able to continue to thrive as a law enforcement family. My hope, in returning to school for my Master’s degree, is that I will eventually be able to move back into a dispatch setting as an administrator.
I truly believe what I said before; that a career in law enforcement is not just a job but rather a way of life. Every aspect of our life is touched in some capacity because of the career he has chosen; some things for worse, some things for the better. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the path we’ve chosen to take together as a law enforcement family and while sometimes bumpy and winding, it is, without a doubt, an honor to be able to walk that path with him.