To say this week has been difficult for law enforcement is an understatement. The culture of police hate seems to have risen to new heights—and our own are misunderstood, accused, maligned, judged, abandoned by leaders, wounded, and killed.
That takes its toll on officers, and on those who love them.
As the wife of a highway patrolman, I see his inner conflict. I feel his stress.
I hear the comments and know that most of the statements made are out of inflamed half-truths, based on perceptions and not necessarily facts, but now band together to make a movement against all police officers. If you say something over and over it becomes the truth—but that too, is a lie. This breeds a frustration within our officers that quickly can turn to discouragement. How can we defend ourselves when we are accused without evidence? When the media and the public jump on the bandwagon, it seems like everyone in the world is against us.
We as families suffer too. We hear the accusations, the labels, and we know what is being said is not true. We live with them. We know their motivations. We see their souls. We love them because they care about others. And we’ve made many sacrifices ourselves for the public who seems to now reject them.
In the wake of what we are enduring, how can we support our officers? Here are some thoughts:
- Listen. Officers need a place to vent that is safe. Open ears, close mouth and hear their heart. Don’t panic. Ask questions. It is imperative that our officers open up and process this suffering.
- Unplug. Constant stewing within the rhetoric will not help.
- Ensure sleep. It is more critical than ever that officers get the rest they need. REM sleep is the body’s natural way to heal the mind. Massage, sex, calming and positive music, holding them for however long they need, whatever it takes to calm them enough to sleep—do.
- Get away. Day offs need to be quiet and away from the crazy. Escape to the mountains or the beach. Skip rocks, take a walk or a drive, let the quiet restore our souls.
- Meet our officer’s needs while in survival mode. Our officers are working long hours on high alert. Make lunches, pack waters, coffee, protein bars, and cooling towels to help long hours in a car or on the streets. When they’re home, serve healthy meals and let the kids love on them. Keep extra uniforms clean and ready in case he gets called out. Our officers lead a crisis-driven career, and our cities are in crisis.
- Humble Voices when dealing with others. There are many people who understand the value of police officers. There are those who may be on the fence, don’t know what to make of all of this. We can educate others. We can refute the lies, and give valuable insight. But they will not listen if we are not humble.
- Keep mentally healthy. Cry when you need to, vent to another cop wife, go to the gym, get some sleep, whatever is necessary to de-isolate and get your thoughts together. Our officers need us to be strong.
- Lean on our support system. We must find those who are wise, supportive, mature, peaceful, and lean on them to gain perspective. We need to band together as families, but not to bolster hatred. We don’t need more drama; we need calm, rational, mutual understanding.
- Don’t let hurt turn to hate. We’ve already seen what that can do. It is natural to take a defensive posture. It’s a terrible feeling to be judged and maligned. We can’t allow ourselves to go there.
- Most of all, fellow police families, we gotta pray. Not talk about praying, but truly pray. This problem is bigger than what we can handle. It is a spiritual problem. God says that our officers are his servants—the governing authority that keeps the peace He intends. Our officers battle the powerful forces of evil, whether they are a person of faith or not. We must pray for protection, peace, and for God to change hearts and minds.
Victoria Newman is an author, speaker, and founder of How2LoveYourCop, an organization that provides positive resources for law enforcement families. She is author of A CHiP on my Shoulder and A Marriage in Progress, speaks all over the United States and Canada, mentors several spouses, and is a blogger and ghostwriter. Her website is: www.how2loveyourcop.com.