This isn’t a complaint or a question, just an observation. My first partner got some bad news: She has cancer.
She’s been my partner since before I became a cop—more than 27 years. She’s put up with the lousy pay, the lousy shifts and the other not-so-nice parts of law enforcement careers. Sometimes she’s complained but, when all is considered, not that much. She’s probably complained less than me.
I’ve awakened to my partner washing blood out of my hair, as I lay in a hospital bed following an incident where I rode on the hood of a punk’s car after he ran me down. This was one of several trips to the ER she’s made over the years. She’s always been there for me. As she starts this battle, I’m determined to be there for her. This means taking some time off and postponing some training I scheduled for later this year. I’m catching some flak at work over this, but I have the time coming, so I’m taking it. Just as I wouldn’t abandon a partner on the street, I can’t abandon her now.
This might not be your typical letter, but I felt like venting to someone that might understand where this old cop is coming from.
Thanks for your letter. On the one hand, I feel both great sorrow and respect for you and your partner. Surviving inside of our profession for that long while maintaining a marriage is amazing. Many of us don’t pick our significant others well enough to find someone who can put up with the things you described and the hundreds of other cop-related issues we all know exist.
There’s a hell of a lesson there for you youngsters. A beautiful partner is important, but you need to find someone who has the tolerance and constitution to put up with this career. Any long-term relationship is difficult, but you add in shift work, call outs, organizational and street-related stress and good ol’ hypervigilance, and you have the recipe for a disastrous married life. A stable home life will make you a better cop and give you a more productive and rewarding career.
Ol’ Bullethead can’t even count the number of hardworking young police officers I’ve seen turn into disgruntled, lazy, useless cops after their marriage fell apart. Some blame the job, some blame the person. However, if they picked better, they would’ve had a shot at keeping their families together.
We need to do more to educate ourselves about the effects this career has on our relationships, personalities and psyches. We can turn into John Adams and not even realize it. Ol’ Bullethead is lucky because Mrs. Bullethead isn’t afraid of putting her boot into my rear end when I need a little shove in the right direction—and she’s hot! Hey, I’m Bullethead—what were you expecting?
On the other hand, your department is turning my stomach. Think about this: If you rolled by a person in distress on duty and didn’t help, you’d end up with your butt in a sling. The clowns at your agency are giving you a hard time for doing what they’d expect you to do on duty. I don’t think there’s a publishable word that describes how wrong that is. What makes me even more angry is that my department would likely treat me the same.
Let’s be honest. It’s an industry-wide problem. At my agency, they pretend to be better. I remember one young cop who flew to the hospital in his unit because his son had to go in for something. The watch commander was supportive for about an hour. Then, he called the young cop up and started screaming about getting the unit back. On that day, that lieutenant took a hard-working cop and made him an enemy of the department. He also negatively affected every one of us who heard that story.
Ol’ Bullethead wasn’t working that day. Had I been, I would’ve been busted to civilian when I jumped over the desk and shoved the phone up that WC’s tail. That moron would still be trying to get it out, and it just might have been worth it. I don’t know how to fix this except by not doing it and trying to influence others.
I’d like to swing by your department with my baton and change some minds, but that won’t help you or your partner. Brother, you’ve been doing the right thing on the job for more than 27 years, and you’re doing the right thing now. Take care of your lady!
Got a question or complaint? Let Bullethead hear about it. He'll give you his opinion WITH BOTH BARRELS. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax him at 619/699-6246.