When my oldest son was a young boy, he was quiet, serious and studious which led me to believe that one day he might grow up to be an educator of some sort. I had visions of him becoming a college professor or perhaps a high school English teacher.
Fast forward two degrees and 20-something years later, and his choice of careers is something I would not have guessed back then. Much to my surprise, my quiet, serious son chose to go into law enforcement as his life’s work.
Being the mother of a police officer takes some getting used to, especially when we are constantly bombarded by horror stories of the dangers faced by law enforcers. Recently, two police officers in Las Vegas were shot and killed while having lunch. I talked with my son about this and he assured me that he rarely eats in restaurants while in uniform, and if he has no choice, he finds the safest location possible to sit. He and I are well aware, however, that every time he puts that uniform on he is a sitting duck for anyone who has a grudge against the police.
Those officers in Las Vegas were someone’s sons, someone’s husbands, someone’s fathers. The work police officers do is noble – they are trying to keep the rest of us safe. But who can promise to keep them safe? Who looks at someone like my son and sees a selfless, intelligent, kindhearted son/boyfriend/brother/friend who is putting his life on the line every day he tries to do his job? Humanity, being what it is, is lacking in our world today.
I worry about my son and all officers everywhere, every day. Violence is so commonplace that no one really bats an eye anymore at the news of police officers dying in the line of duty. Here in New York State an officer standing on the side of a road was deliberately run down and killed recently. He, too, was the love of someone’s life, not just a faceless man in a uniform doing his job.
As a society, we are all guilty of looking at that radar cop sitting on the side of the road or pulling us over and failing to see how that person is protecting us by upholding the law. I look at that officer and see someone’s son, and I am hoping that on the other side of this country someone is looking at MY boy and seeing someone’s son.
Whenever my son and I end our conversations, I always teasingly say, “Don’t forget to wear your bulletproof vest!” My son’s reply is always the same – “Oh, wow, thanks for reminding me, Mom! If you didn’t tell me, I would never have remembered!” We laugh, and hang up. But we both know it’s no joke that each day he goes to work, anything could happen just because he is who he is … someone who has taken an oath to protect society and uphold its laws. His job will never make him popular, but it should earn him respect for trying to make the world a safer place. And as his mother, I will continue to remind myself that he is very smart and very careful not to put himself in any more danger than is possible.
I also will still remind him to wear that vest and drive carefully, because to me, he is just my son.