‘This evening, I called my husband who was on late shift. I wanted to share exciting news with him…I had just received a call that I had gotten the job I had hoped for. A job which surprisingly, would fit within the craziness that is our life of shift work and children.
However, when he answered the phone, his voice was raised so he could speak over the noise of the Police siren. I knew it wasn’t a good time, so I asked him to call me when he had a chance.
Ending the call, a thought entered my mind… Would I ever get the chance to share the news with him? Or would this be one of those simple but unpredictable jobs? I hate the fact that is where my thoughts go, but that is a real concern.
Will my husband come home after this shift? Will he lay beside me at 2am when he is supposed to be home, or will I read about the reason he is late on the news online when I am up during the early hours with our infant son?
This is the simple reality of being a Police officer. Every job has the potential to be unpredictable. This is the simple reality of being a Police officer’s wife. Every time my husband walks out our front door, I tell him to ‘stay safe’. A simple yet powerful phrase.
I am aware that New Zealand may not be as unpredictable as other countries, yet my views on the dangers of policing in New Zealand are based on our experiences. My husband started his career in a volatile town, where a myriad of socio-cultural influences are involved. He loves the comradery and the relationships built with his co-workers. When you live particular experiences, you build a strong bond with those on your section.
Eighteen months ago, my husband was seriously assaulted on the job. I got the 3am call that no fiancée wants to get. He tried to down play the seriousness….honey, I’m ok but….within 10 minutes of that call I was dressed and on the hour long journey to the hospital, stopping only for a house being transported along the road. When I arrived, my husband was stoic. The seriousness of his injuries, he attempted to soften with promise of coffee, chocolate and jokes with his colleagues. He was also in incredible pain.
This was 10 days before our wedding. Five days before our wedding he had surgery on his face. Our day was not what is should have been, but exactly what is was. The experience strengthened our resolve and belief in what he is doing for “queen and country” as he likes to say.
Our children witnessed parts of his physical recovery, but at their age couldn’t fully appreciate, and were sheltered from other aspects of his recovery. None the less, it had and still continues to have a significant effect on them. All of a sudden their father, who was like Superman to them, was hurt. It has been a long recovery process for all of us.
A year later, I got another call that no wife wants to get….Honey I’m ok but….I’ve been hit by a car during a pursuit…I need an x-ray on my spine – can you come and pick me up…I don’t think I should drive.
I have a love-hate relationship with the sound of the Police siren. It catches my breath in my chest, and makes me close my eyes. I know it brings relief to those who are hoping for and anticipating help, but it also reminds me of the 10 long minutes my husband waited for backup after pushing his panic button. I also know, it is my husband who is answering those calls for help.
My hope is that one day, Police officers will be acknowledged for what they do, and what they give up. It is a thankless job, with brutal hours, and one that can be incredibly mentally, physically and emotionally draining.
Every time my husband walks out our front door, I tell him ‘stay safe’. I hope that is enough.
A Police Officer’s Wife.’
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