How to Love Your Cop Through Hate
Yesterday I asked Chief about the general feelings of the troops in light of the movement of hatred toward police officers brought to the forefront in the Michael Brown shooting.
“Just another day on the streets,” he replied.
When I answered with a quizzical look, he reminded me that California is no stranger to this attitude.
He reminded me that as a new cop on the streets of Los Angeles 26 years ago, there was a warning that Bloods and Cripps had declared war on the police, and had shot at police from overpasses several times. My own husband was shot at while he was assisting a pregnant woman in labor who’d been accosted. He’d been part of the Rodney King riots in 1992. We have problems in Oakland as well as LA on a regular basis. And last year, when Dorner went on a killing spree (killing police officers and their family members), social media blew up in support of his murderous rampage.
So, as spouses and families, how do we respond?
For officers, it may just be another day on the streets, but for you and me it’s different.
It pisses us off to hear sweeping judgmental comments about men and women in blue. We know firsthand how much abuse they take, how scrutinized they are, how quick people are to blame cops for their own mistakes, and we experience everyday the lack of sleep and constant stress. We live in it.
And we make sacrifices, too.
Because we know and love who they are underneath that uniform.
We know that the things chanted in the streets are rarely supported by evidence. Because we live with them, breathe the same air, watch them be tender with our children.
So, in light of this, I’ve come up with a list of seven “keeps” of how we can love and support our spouses.
For starters, a “keep” was a type of fortified tower built within castles during the Middle Ages by European nobility. It was a fortified residence, used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to an adversary.
Kind of like our homes today. By keeping in mind the things I’ve listed below, we can actually fortify our homes, and our officers.
Keep Your Head
There will be anger. There will be fear. There will be injustice. There will be misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Even by people who are close to you. But understand that they are not thinking specifically of your spouse when they spew out their rants. They are rebelling against AUTHORITY. I’ll expand on this in my next post, but for the time being, we gotta keep it together, just like our husbands have to. Take your frustration and anger to a trusted place (closed support groups on Facebook, friends you trust, family members who are supportive of your marriage and mission), and delete police haters from your Facebook. We don’t need to feed our minds with it. In the heat of the battle, they aren’t listening anyway.
Talk out your fears with your officer. Listen to his frustrations. Then keep it between you. Communication is toughest in crises, mainly because we’re all trying to figure out how we feel, think, and respond amidst inflamed emotions. But our officers need a safe place, as do we.
Also keep in mind that when police are scrutinized and the public demands answers, our leaders are thrown into a delicate balance of accountability to the people and impartiality to their own. It’s a very difficult place to be in, and many are just not equipped to handle it well. In these cases, trust can disappear in a moment, between the public and the department, and the leadership and the troops.
Many times you are the only sounding board your officer can trust.
Keep the Peace
People are vicious in groups. There are some peaceful protestors who have legitimate complaints based on fact or misunderstanding. Then there are anarchists who will inflame crowds with misinformation or disturbance. And then there are those who are attracted to the stink and take advantage by vandalizing or looting. Whoever they are, they have no idea the sacrifices a police officer and his family make, and frankly don’t care. Sometimes an officer will fail and have it coming.
As spouses, we want to choose their side, shout to the world, educate people, have them see the truth. These attacks aren’t necessarily personal (except for the officer in the hot seat, and they are actually considered a representation of all cops). The issue is the uniform and what it represents. It feels personal to us, though. We have a right to our feelings, but we need to keep above stooping to their level. Many times its wise to just walk away.
Keep Eyes Open
When we are alert, listening, and learning, we have the ability to offer tidbits of wisdom to our officers in appropriate moments. We have intuition, and we have a different perspective. And vice versa.
We also need to be vigilant in protecting our homes and our children. Be aware of your surroundings, wear your police T-shirts in appropriate places, and put the uniforms in the trunk when you pick up the dry cleaning. We are proud of the fact that our spouses are officers, but not everyone shares the love. Our officers already know this and that’s the reason they want to live quiet lives that don’t bring attention to their positions.
We have two ears, one mouth. And if patient, we can learn some things. About people. About ourselves. About the actual facts of an incident. We have the power to exercise wisdom. We have a responsibility to restrain ourselves, just like our officers. If we season our speech with humility and reason, it gets ’em every time.
Keep the Home Fires Burnin’
There is nothing better than a home that is clean, smells good, runs smoothly, and there’s food on the table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Chief come home and breathe a sigh of relief because the house is clean and dinner is ready. This also works for teenagers after a long day of school and sports. And as I write this, I look at my house and realize that this keep here is for ME.
Yep, God is interested in this. The Bible says that He puts those who are in authority into service to keep the peace (Romans 13). Police officers are actually servants of God Himself. I will write more about this in another post because its important we understand this. But for us, for now, we do help our spouses by talking to God about them. Pray for their stress, their wisdom, for their conduct, and of course, pray for their protection.
There are also those officers who become the lightning rod in these inflamed responses, and many times the facts are irrelevant or not reported until that officer is trashed and maligned. These guys and their families need our prayers as well.
And we can pray for ourselves, too. Over the years, I have dealt with anger, confusion, fear, and other emotions by going to the One who will always listen, always answer (although not always how I’d like), and who will love me no matter what.
Lastly, we need to pray for our enemies. For those who have taken on hatred based on non-truths and misunderstandings. They are hurting and lost and are looking to blame others for injustices. Those who destroy and riot and steal and even murder, yes, they most certainly need our prayers.