Eventually you will figure it out… My odd sense of humor and the strange hours that I keep. So I might as well come right out and say it. I am… married to an LEO.
I was also a dispatcher for a near decade, which is where I got my sense of humor from that I so desperately try to hide. It is NOT however, where I met my husband. I know, the eyes are rolling… Ya, right!!! Someday I will share that funny encounter of when I met the funniest garbage man in our town… But for now…
For about 10 years my man has been wanting to take me to a training class that he has gone to several times. This one was his third. In his words… “They are always different.” He used to see the adds come up with a discount for spouses if officers want them to come along. So when he saw that a county to the east of us was hosting this exact class that he loves…. He asked if I would want to attend.
I said yes!!! Because I love to support my man in absolutely everything he does. And to be honest… I really wanted to go.
This class is one that my man truly loves…. The information was amazing and while his agency didn’t send him to it.. they should have. They should send all their officers to it.. and paid for their spouses to go also… But for us.. .we paid our own way. The whole way.. and every penny was well worth it.
I was hoping there would be more wives at this training. Apparently their was quite a few when he last went to the training… In Las Vegas….
But as I signed in… and was greeted by the lady at the door.. who was very excited to see me and exclaimed.. Oh your the spouse that is attending… I stopped in my tracks and looked at her saying. “Spouse? As in only one?”
I was the only one that was attending. They were very happy to see me there and wished more wives would come to this training.. But, I was the only one. And while it felt uncomfortable for a moment… I followed my husband who took charge and led the way.
I’ve always followed him in all the training we have ever been in together. All his years on the job and he knows exactly what these things bring. Even down to where to sit…. It’s like clockwork, and it paid off big time!
I am going to speak frankly about what it was about… so if you are someone that just doesn’t want to know… this is where you stop reading.… Because what I describe next… will give some anxiety and fear to some… and well… it’s real life.
The instructor was a hoot. Sgt. Jonathan Davis also made no apologies for his potty mouth. (Which he shouldn’t.) But, I have picked up my potty mouth again… so if you hear me… just know.. I am working on it… Maybe.
We jumped right into the fire and started off the class with the pledge of allegiance… and smack dab into stats and videos.
We talked about the will to survive and how officers have to go from sitting in their patrol car to instant fight mode.. and once the threat is down.. turn to saving that threats life. We talked about safety… first … and winning.. and stress… and survival…
And the average age of a police officer is 66!
The average age of an officer having a heart attack is 40!!!!
They are dying.. and how they are dying.. and what they can do to protect themselves so they can protect others….
Felonious Assaults…. Roadway related incidents….. Physical Conditions….. Emotional health….
We watched video after video, some I had seen… but many I hadn’t… on calls that went deadly for officers… but it didn’t stop at the video… The instructor either found out the back story to the call or actually interviewed family members or the surviving officer… We learned what they were thinking at the time and we learned what not to do for the safety of the officers… all involved….
We learned that ALL officers should be wearing their seat belt…. that many in the video’s would have survived… we also learned that seat belt extenders… KILL. They were not designed for the way officers are using them.
If you want to get out of the car fast enough…. practice taking your seat belt on and off.. just like you practice unholstering and reholstering your gun.
Or be prepared to be thrown from your vehicle and have your patrol car roll over you and crush your head.
Wear your seat belt!!!
We learned that staying in shape is important… so much so that I am currently building a gym for my husband and I to train in together…. Overlooking the bay… I can’t wait to start building it. I have already taking the tape measure up to map it out on our land!
Listen, it’s really important!!! I’m giving up my big forever home for this. That important!
He talked about emotional health. Something we learned from our prior agency and was socially acceptable down there.. but is totally NOT up here.. the instructor seemed floored when he asked how many saw a professional to help with what they deal with on the road.. and NO ONE rose their hands…
Ya, I get it… It’s not something we want to talk about… But we have.. one of the best in the nation Psychologist’s for critical incidence/first responders right in our back door.. There is no excuse in this state to NOT find help. She is not only awesome but you know… she understands you…
And I am not to proud to admit I have used her services and she is amazing! Almost as good as the lady I saw on a regular bases when I was down in California.
I loved that he went in depth on emotional well being.
Plan for your retirement the day you get the job. figure out what you want to do after this job and start doing it…. Get hobbies… learn a craft…
It’s actually something most of my prior co-workers have… they all had a second job or business… or were working towards something else other then LE. Not here. He asked what people were planning on doing when they retire… I heard a few out of the 70 laugh out “Fishing and drinking beer”.
My man didn’t say anything. We were the oldest/longest on duty in the room… and I can tell you… we are fully involved in training and learning our next adventure. We know. LE life is going to come to an end. And those that survive it… are the ones with a plan already in place.
The Sgt spoke in depth on stress… and what it does to a body in the short term and the long term. We listened to radio traffic and heard the adrenaline dumps over the air…. He talked about how knowing what is occurring in your body gives you the best ability to control it…
You know it’s going to happen… you feel it happening and you know it’s going to end.. and you can breath your way out of it.. so you can respond to the threat in a rational way.
I could totally relate…. Last year when I came face to face with the Cougar next to the house as I was coming home…. My adrenaline dump occurred… I knew what it was.. I knew I could breath my way out of it… so as he came toward me I was calm enough to draw my pistol and take aim.
Now, I didn’t know what it was when I saw my first mouse and I screamed like a sissy and jumped up on top of the car calling the pest company…. Man.. big difference once you get training and knowledge in ya…..
We watched more videos… on fighting… and more fighting and officers losing the fight.. but not after they gave a hell of a fight… we watched ambushes and flat out shooting of officers caught on their body cams or car videos. And I must add… that most of them were in the last 6 months.
We saw the horrific images of officers laying in the streets… bleeding out.. hearing their last breaths over their car radio… The room grew silent.. and you knew… most of them knew the risks of this job.. and the video’s kept coming.
And I was fuming with how these dispatchers were handling the calls… When a flipping officer comes over the air near death.. and he tells you ‘tell my family i love them’ and you remain silent… you are a disgrace to the profession I love!!!!! You damn well better cue up and tell that officer not to give up… hang in their… we got you.. we’re coming for ya.. no officer left behind…. don’t give up!!!! NOT ON MY WATCH OFFICER!!!!!”
Yes, I am a little upset on how the dispatchers across the country handle those calls…
They talked about families and wives and children that were left behind.
We talked about speeding to calls and the dangers to the officers and the citizens and how it’s just not worth it in most cases to risk it… We talked about wearing your vests.. and saw a video of an officer clearly not… on a traffic stop… without a chance to defend himself because the first shot to the chest took his life.
What I found most interesting… was when he talked about cursing… I knew from dispatching that there is a time and a place for cursing.. and when he talked about how most agencies… yes… don’t want their officer’s cursing… but when they are in the heat of a call… they let it slide.. because they know the brain and the stress and adrenaline react in a way.. that it occurs… its a way of relieving stress… and a way of speaking so the suspect understands… (yes, some people only listen when you speak their language. I know that to be a fact.) But I happen to know the agency my man works for is totally out to get an officer that uses foul language. And with all the information I was given in this class…. The agency is flat out wrong.. and in fact adding more stress to the officer while attempting to do his job.
He talked about the media.. and the stresses of having to work with the public and always having Internal affairs watching your every move and knowing that at any moment something could happen and ….. The stress of all of the questioning of ‘will my agency back me up or Monday morning quarterback me’ is causing accidents and officers deaths.
Our men have way to much to worry about….
They talked about divorce and suicide… among officers… What to look for.. in yourself and in others.. and they shared what to do…
Be the bad person.. Be the one that seeks the person help… even if they will hate you for it.
I know that to be true.. When several years ago my man noticed someone not doing well.. and no one would step up… no one would seek them help… till my officer did… He didn’t know them well enough to step in… he went and asked those that did to get them help….. But the one’s that did know them well were having to much fun watching the spiral then to step in……. So my man did what he was trained to do… seek help for those that need it and can’t see it for themselves… and he was touted to be the bad guy.. because he chose helping another officer instead of letting them continue to spiral out of control.
I had done it in dispatching… with my fellow dispatchers… It’s the right thing to do… look out for the lives of your fellow co-workers. When you see someone that needs help and isn’t getting it.. and you work in the LEO field..and you don’t attempt to get them help.. You need to find another job.
He would do it again. Having an officer go home to their family is what matters.. we don’t care about being popular.
The instructor was awesome…
We left the class after 2 days.. and on the way home my husband asked me what I got out of it…
“Well, I am building you a gym. That’s for sure. I will need some money for that. I learned a lot… I am still processing most of it.” Silence… “But, will you let me know when I can help you with anything please?”
Then I asked. “What did you want me to get out of this class… can I ask you?”
He paused.. then replied… “I wanted you there to listen to what I was hearing… So when you see the signs or hear me saying something.. you can remind me of what we listened to. You hear things and remember things better then I do at times. Just knowing that you will remind me of why I need to do things is what I need.”
“Hey.. I can do that… I even took notes!!! And I got my own certificate!!!!!!”
So it’s been 3 days since the class.. and I can honestly say it is now sinking in. I left 911 7 years ago to start building the homestead and future life for us after LE. But I have begun to notice that I have allowed myself to become more of an LEOW then a dispatcher married to her officer. I’m not sure I like the feeling of that. It’s almost as if I have lost some sense of my own safety out on the streets….
What I do know is that I have a new found respect/appreciation for my husband’s profession. Yesterday passing him on the side of the road I was very grateful to see my favorite other Officer out with him on the accident scene… I could feel myself tense… till I saw who was with him… Awe… I have all the confidence in the world those 2 could handle anything! But there was that moment.. of my breath… as I saw the lights… and all the video’s flashed through my memory….
I am so grateful that my husband doesn’t choose to shield me from his life. That I know the risks.. It gives me the ability to help him relieve the stress from his life. To focus on taking care of him… and our family in a way that a normal family can’t understand.
I could see it happen.. I hadn’t been to this training.. He comes home and says.. I really need to build a gym… and find a hobby to focus on .. and me.. standing at the door.. rolling my eyes.. saying.. honey.. you don’t need a gym.. just run on the street out there.. and a hobby??? what about spending more time with me???
I could have totally deflated absolutely every thing that he just learned in training that would save his life… and sentenced him to an early death.. higher stress at home.. and left him emotionally bankrupt. Because the instructor backed up absolutely everything he said with facts and evidence… and here I would be… rolling my eyes… (I have seen wives do it in front of me to their men…. never let me be like that!!!!!) saying he didn’t really need that… “You always come home from training with these wild idea’s… it’ll pass like the others…”
Every agency should send the spouses to these classes with their officers….
Ok.. best of all… the steak at this restaurant was amazing….. and those chipotle sweet potatoes are to die for!!!!!!!