For many Americans, Thanksgiving means a day of family, food and relaxation, but Marietta SWAT Officer Connor McDonald often finds himself at the police station for the evening watch from 3-11 p.m. His family lives too far away for him to visit in the morning and still make it to his shift on time, but he doesn’t mind spending the holiday at work.
“A lot of the guys on shift, we’re all so close that it still kind of feels like you’re with family,” McDonald said.
Of the holidays McDonald has to work, Thanksgiving is his favorite. The whole shift gets to spend time together, and after working together so often, they’ve become close, he said.
While evening shifts are normally busy with back-to-back calls, on Thanksgiving they tend to have fewer calls and a slower pace, he said. According to the Cobb County 911 call center, the average number of calls for service on a non-holiday in 2022 was 154, while on Thanksgiving Day the same year there were 90.
The officers on shift prepare a potluck. Between calls, they throw a football around and everyone brings a dish to share. Last year, the group dined on fried turkey, rotisserie chicken and classic Thanksgiving sides like green beans and mashed potatoes.
A few families will even drop off treats or casseroles, McDonald said, which “puts everyone in a good mood at the beginning of a shift.”
Working the Thanksgiving shift just depends on how the schedule falls, he said, but the officers who don’t have families of their own will sometimes volunteer to work on the holidays so those who do can take the day off.
McDonald knew part of being a police officer would mean sacrificing time with his family, but his love for the job makes it worthwhile. And while McDonald’s family misses him, they’re proud of the work he does.
“If people have something, a situation that they can’t handle, I want to be able to come and do the best I can with it,” McDonald said.
Even if that means spending the holidays at work. But despite this sacrifice, “We always make the best of it,” he said.
©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Visit at ajc.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.