Provide a Refuge at Home
There is no arguing LEOs have stressful jobs. It can be a stress that comes from going from one hot call to another, seeing tragedy, boredom, and most likely the one true stress that exists in all agencies: the administrative bullcrap (another word really wanted to appear here, but this was substituted). One of our jobs, as the one who loves the person who carries the badge, is to be a peaceful, supportive force in their life. Officers endure a lot of criticism from the public, other officers, administrators, and the government. When they come home to us, we need to provide an environment that is drama free and supportive so they have a chance to clear their mind. When an LEO has distractions from home, it can compromise their safety if their mind is too cluttered. So do your best to provide them with a supportive, loving home so that they can be refreshed when their watch begins.
Talk About Tactics
In law enforcement the common salutation is Be Safe. In our household be safe has always been followed by And Have Fun. However, as we watched events in our backyard unfold with five Chicago cops last year being ambushed and killed, I added And remember every one out there has the potential to kill you. As grim as it may sound, it is important for our officers to remember this in everything they do because complacency kills and I need Mike to be on top of his skills. So I talk tactics with him. I want him to be survival-oriented and for him to be ready to fight for his life, no matter the circumstance, since his number one job is to come home at the end of the day.
I will ask him, Have you been doing your visual exercises that if someone were to shoot you, do you know how you would fight to stop the other guy and stay alive? Do you feel confident in your tactical skills and in your physical ability? Is there any equipment you need to be safer? I do not enjoy this conversation. I bench my emotions as we have this discussion, for they are out of control, but I would much rather have difficult survival discussions than to have him hurt or killed in the line of duty. I can suck it up for the greater good.
One of the ways I have come to terms with the reality that Mike has a dangerous job is to make the most of our life together. We have always made fun a priority. We know that laughter balances out the harsh realities of the world and makes our relationship stronger and more meaningful. We have a strong bond because we choose to seek out experiences in life that build friendship, intimacy, and memories. We value our off time and use it wisely. We also know that life is short, there is no guarantee either one of us is going to be around tomorrow, so we will responsibly enjoy what we have today. Having fun keeps us sane and balanced. It is also the most important piece of advice we have for you today. Enjoy one another each and every day.
There is so much that could be said on how to cope during this time many are feeling the loss of our brothers and sisters in blue. We all know they were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. We all know they left a family for the greater good of a society who may never appreciate the sacrifice that was made. However, we need to continue on by taking advantage of each day, supporting the ones we love, and by being strong.