“Stay Strong. Be Safe. Come Home.”
The words above may be simple, but have so much meaning. My dad is a Police Officer and has been for more than 20 years. His dedication and passion can be seen not only while he’s at work, but at home as well. It takes an incredibly strong person with so much determination and compassion to put on that uniform everyday and head to work, knowing he might not come home. He’s taught me how to be strong, how to be kind and compassionate and most importantly how to throw a mean punch and a swift kick to any man’s groin who tried to hurt me.
I always get asked, “How was growing up with a dad who was a Police Officer?”, “Has he ever shot someone?”, “Does he tell you all the cool stories?”. Being the sarcastic person I am, I have to bite my tongue to refrain from getting myself in trouble. To answer those questions, yes my dad has told me stories and no, not all of them were “cool” some were heartbreaking and disturbing, yes my dad has shot someone but only because his and his partners lives were in danger and growing up with a dad who is a Police Officer, I didn’t know any different. He was just my dad and did anything any other dad would do, the only difference being that he worked a range of long shifts and wore a bulletproof vest and badge to work. What people don’t realize is the family I gained because of my dad’s career choice. Those men and women became my aunts and uncles, the people who showed up to my birthday parties, school events, the ones who attended my graduations and most importantly the ones who have seen me grow into the person I am today and helped solidify my appreciation for those in Law Enforcement.
When I was little I knew that my dad’s job was dangerous but didn’t truly understand what he went through everyday until I got older. My dad has always been my best friend, my hero and my number one supporter. So everyday he’d get ready for work I would try my hardest to make sure he wasn’t able to go; whether it was clinging to his leg for dear life, tying the laces to his boots together in a zillion knots and on the rare occasion throwing his gun belt into my pool. The fear of something happening to him was always in the back of my mind, and became more prominent as I grew older.
Elementary school was a breeze and issues very seldom arose about the fact my dad was a cop. All my classmates found it “cool” that he was a Police Officer especially when he’d show up to school in his uniform just to have lunch with me or for school events. My dad was awesome that way, even though he had work, he always found time to come to my school events and tried to make my childhood as normal as possible. My middle school years were a different story, the kids were less accepting of what my dad did for a living and as a result I didn’t have many friends. Most my lunches were spent eating with the Resource Officer and my weekends were spent with my grandma because my dad was working undercover cases and didn’t know when he’d be able to come home. As I grew older and high school came around it became more apparent the stigma that came along with being a cops daughter and cops in general. They always assumed I was either a “goodie two shoes” or a “rebel who got away with everything,” the truth being I didn’t. I actually was held to a higher standard than most, getting away with lying was absolutely impossible and disappointing my dad was soul crushing. To this day I’m still held to those standards. They assumed all cops are “pigs” and are bad people, the truth being they aren’t. Just like anything else in this world there is good and there is bad, people unfortunately only choose to see the bad and what the media decides to show.
Today I still feel the way I always have and I couldn’t be more proud of who my dad is and what he does. His choice of a career has saved countless lives, and made him not only my hero but one to many others as well. The acts of senselessly killing those men and women in Law Enforcement breaks my heart, it makes my heart hurt for their families, their friends and their fellow Officers. People don’t realize how it feels to have your heart sink into your stomach when you hear there was a Police involved shooting, the sheer panic that goes through your mind and the sigh of relief when your dad finally answers his phone after the 100th time you call him and lets you know he’s okay. You don’t see the look on those Officers faces when they can breath knowing their fellow brother or sister is safe and how it affects them when they find out a fellow Officer has been hurt.
To Law Enforcement Officers – Stay Safe, Be Strong, Come Home.