A letter from a police officer’s wife …

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Earlier tonight a friend of mine posted this on Facebook. Her name is Michele, her husband is a New York City police officer, and she allowed me to run her words here—sans her last name.

It’s brilliant.

I never post stuff like this. I think Facebook is for pictures of cute kids and cuddly puppies. But this one hits close to home and I can’t sleep for obvious reasons so I thought I’d offer my own perspective.

You may not know my husband, but you probably know me enough to know the type of man I would marry. In case you don’t, he is a kind, gentle man who lives simply and simply lives for his wife and children.

This man, like his wife, does not have a racist bone in his body. This man also happens to be a New York City police officer. A man who took the job because he truly wanted to help people and make a difference, and hey a decent pension after 20 years and retiring at age 43 didn’t seem too shabby either.

This man who just texted his wife that he had no idea what time he would be able to get home tonight. His wife who sits alone on the couch watching coverage of rocks and bottles being thrown at police officers and cop cars being lit on fire. His wife who can’t sleep in an empty bed so she goes online and reads of growing crowds and chants of Fuck the police! marching closer and closer to where her husband is stationed as her two 18-month olds sleep down the hall.

This man who is being put in harm’s way because of something someone else did 1,000 miles away, or even one mile away. Someone else who just happens to have the same profession as he does.

This man who may not be judged by the color of his skin, but is certainly judged by the uniform he wears.

Stop and think for a minute about what you think of police officers. Does a stereotype immediately come to mind? Uneducated? A bully? Unsophisticated? Power hungry? Gun happy? Provincial? Misogynistic? I never tire of the look of shock on people’s faces after they learn my husband is a cop. This man who has just been talking to them about Tolstoy and the thesis he wrote on the Revolutionary War. This man who has stamps on his passport from India, the Galapagos Islands, and countless European countries. This man who took Latin classes in his thirties just because he had a desire to learn. This man who does silly dances for his daughters because he loves to see them laugh. This man who tells his wife every day how much he appreciates her. Every day. This man who doesn’t bring his gun home because he doesn’t feel the need to and his wife doesn’t like it.

I don’t pretend for a second to understand the hurt, injustice, and indignation of being poor and black in America, or even rich and black for that matter. Just as I don’t pretend to understand what it must be like to go to work everyday and have to make split-second decisions that are literally life and death.

What I can understand is what it is to be human. To feel. To feel angry at an injustice. To feel afraid of losing someone. To feel sadness at a situation that we wish didn’t exist. Underneath the color of our skin or the uniform we may wear we are all human. We all feel the same things.

Shouldn’t that be enough to understand each other?

6 thoughts on “A letter from a police officer’s wife …”

  1. Her husband needs to do a better job reporting his colleagues if he and she want us to trust him. If the police want us to trust them in our neighborhoods with the level of power that they are granted, they can’t also tell us that they aren’t capable of rooting out so, so many bad apples. And NYPD is not the force where you get to pretend you’re one of the good ones these days. They are on the forefront of everything wrong with race based policing with stop and frisk and “broken windows” policing efforts like it.

    1. I have to agree. I have met some very decent cops here in the Denver Metro Area. Unfortunately however, I have encountered a vast majority of officers who were chickenshit, power mad pricks hiding behind badges.
      I’m not surprised at all that the citizens are pissed. What I am surprised at is that we have ignored this fascists encroachment on our civil rights for this long.

  2. I have to agree. It is almost impossible to discipline, let alone fire, law enforcement officers who use excessive force, or do other bad things. Radley Balko has been writing about this for years, most recently in his Washington Post blog. Worse, the “good” cops, whom I am sure far outnumber the bad apples, hew to the tradition of the “Thin Blue Line” by keeping their mouths shut, and both tacitly condoning and even affirmatively supporting bad behavior by a few of their peers. If they’re going to do that then, fair or unfair, they are going to be tarred with the same brush.

    Yes, many (not all) law enforcement officers have high-pressure jobs with real physical danger involved. That still does not excuse bad behavior. They are supposed to be trained professionals; and unlike soldiers and marines, they are first and foremost sworn to uphold the law, and to DEescalate situations wherever possible. Of course, given the increased popularity of “kill first” training programs, and muddled “rules of engagement,” that professionalism is all too often not in evidence.

  3. With all due respect to a well thought out response Paul… is what you are saying any different than the “band of brothers” on the street or the gang mentality… if the people on the street would stop allowing the hoodlums to be the law in their own neighborhoods (race regardless because there are white/black/hispanic/asian gangs) then wouldn’t that ALSO contribute to the end of this situation… if the violence on the street is tolerated by the common man – when the common man is in trouble who are they going to call? if the fear of stopping the crime element by the people in the communities – how does that work? The circle of violence in the communities and on the streets is something that if you don’t want the ‘crooked’ police (and yes there are some” to stop – WHO IS GOING TO STOP IT? because you walk down broken neighborhoods and sometimes you find areas where the people who live the neighborhoods have banded together and said enough and pushed the crime element out… crime exists and thrives where people allow it… EVERYONE is responsible for STOPPING it not just police organizations… if we didn’t NEED police then they wouldn’t NEED to exist…

  4. A lot of husbands and fathers are just like him. But, we don’t get the same privileges and protections your husband gets. Lay off of the “my husband is a cop”….. It’s really getting old.

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