A Cop's Thanksgiving

There is obviously a critical need for first responders and medical personnel to be on duty. You don’t have to be an Allstate agent to know that “trouble never takes a holiday”. Neither does crime or death. In reality there are other jobs which...


Let the chaos begin.  Not only is Black Friday the busiest shopping day of the year, it also the busiest shoplifting day of the year.  Black Friday accounts for 10% of retailers’ holiday sales.  Last year 26 million shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday.  Annually, more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers.  The rate of shoplifting is 1 in 11 “shoppers”.   That means on Black Friday there are about 2.4 million shoplifters attempting to get the truly best bargain in town.  Of course stores increase their security for the season, thieves are caught, and you are called, maybe over and over again if your beat includes a mall. 

Let’s not forget the crazy shoppers, who will go to any length to get one of fifty Furbies, or 1 in100 Nintendo Wii U.  Last year Black Friday led to riots as people brawled over video consoles, waffle irons and discounted towels.  A woman in LA injured 20 people with pepper spray, which she used to gain an edge on other shoppers in a rush for an Xbox at Walmart.  I am looking forward to posts of the shopping pandemonium on YouTube. 

And that’s not the half of it, literally.  We wind up the holiday with the newly traditional Cyber Monday.  It is estimated that 150 million shoppers will hit their computers/smart phones and make purchases on that day.  Crooks and scammers have been baiting their traps for wearied shoppers hunting for irresistibly good buys all year.  Welcome to cyber crime city, call in the detectives.

Emotional Toll of Missing the Holiday

The emotional toll of working Thanksgiving can be substantial for an officer and his/her family.  Unless you a newbie this won’t be the first family holiday you have had to miss due to your career choice. Many officers feel like they are disappointing children, spouses, other family members, as well as themselves.   There really is no way to make this one up, but you will feel obligated to try.  You may have to work Christmas as well.  Family members try to understand, but you can see the sadness in their eyes.

Additionally, because the holidays are a time for reflection, officers, like anyone else, are susceptible to feelings of melancholy.   This can become painful for the officer whose memories include someone he/she has killed in the line of duty.  Even if an OIS was justified, on Thanksgiving (or Christmas) an officer may reflect on the individual’s family—how are they coping today.  Or may muse about the family of the officer was killed in the line of duty.  For some officers a difficult call may cause him to remember other painful calls on a previous holiday, or a personally bad holiday, reliving the events and feelings.

The Upside of Working Thanksgiving

Anyone who has to access emergency services on Thanksgiving can because of you.  That includes you, your family, and your friends.  And yes, people are very thankful for that. 

 I have missed many Thanksgiving meals with my husband and children.  I feel guilty about and attempt to rationalize it to them and to myself.  I thought that I had disappointed my family, but I overheard them bragging to others about my work and some of the sacrifices that I have made.  It is true; I have never worked a Thanksgiving that I didn’t make at least one stranger’s holiday a little better.  My family started a tradition of serving Thanksgiving dinners with service groups who prepared meals for the less fortunate or lonely citizens in our community. 

This Thanksgiving take time to evaluate your own life, what is most important to you?  Keep things in perspective and take some time to reflect on what you want and what you are thankful for.  Make time to write down 10-20 things you are thankful for, share it with a loved one, a partner or other officers who read Officer.com.  When you are feeling a little down review your list or someone else’s to rekindle some gratitude.   I’ll get you started

I’m thankful for:

  • My family, friends, and colleagues
  • Naps
  • A considerate editor
  • Chocolate
  • An ability to make a difference
  • Laughter
  • Hikes in the mountains
  • Being an American
  • My health
  • Heroes
  • Western movies
  • ………………. (your turn)

And yes, I’m thankful to all the command staff who volunteers to work a holiday so that an officer with a family can stay home.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours; and thank you for all that you do.  

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