Today is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. All day long I’ve pondered what to write and one thing kept popping into my mind. For many years, my guy was the president of the local POA. He worked tirelessly during those years to convince the city manager to raise patrol officer pay. After a lengthy battle, he finally won a little victory and the city agreed to fund a raise for the officers. That’s when one of his buddies – a seasoned sergeant who had seen it all – said something I’ll never forget.
No amount of money can ever repay me for the innocence I’ve lost.
Heavy words. Truthful words. There’s no way the civilian population can ever understand the innocence lost by every police officer that ever pinned on the shield. And really, they shouldn’t have to. As the wife of an officer though, the words rang true for me when I thought about my guy who started his career before he was even old enough to buy his own bullets. Sworn in to serve at protect at the ripe, old age of 19.
Who can repay my guy for the innocence he lost when he found a fellow officer shot in the head on Christmas day? He was on his way but didn’t get there soon enough to prevent the unthinkable. It haunts him to this day. Innocence lost.
Who can repay my guy for the innocence he lost when he found a decaying body in a hot apartment? I’m just guessing you don’t know that the maggots come from God-only-knows-where and eat dead flesh? Yeah, I didn’t know it either. But my guy knew it because he saw it. And smelled it. Innocence lost.
Who can repay my guy for the innocence he lost when he found the bodies of two little girls who had been abducted, sexually assaulted, killed, shoved in a cooler and thrown in a dumpster. He had a little girl at home. Those are the cases that hurt the most – the ones involving little children just like yours at home. Innocence lost.
Yes, the words rang loudly in my ear as a wife. But, as the mother of a young officer, the words reverberate in my ear at a deafening level. And, they cause me even more pain than they did as a young wife. It. Just. Hurts. More.
Who can repay my son for the innocence he lost the first night on duty when he and his FTO answered a suicide call and he saw the gruesome sight of a young woman who took her own life? The vivid details he told me that night are too disturbing to put into print. I don’t like to think about it and I don’t want to write it. But, at 21 years of age…he saw it. Innocence gone.
Who can repay my son for the innocence he lost when a buddy was shot on duty? He shoved his hand into the wounds and packed in Quikclot while he waited for paramedics. I saw a picture of him after it was all over. He was standing there just looking at his hands. They were covered with blood and he was just looking at them. Innocence was gone.
Who can repay our officers for the innocence they’ve lost? No one. No one can repay them and no one can really appreciate the innocence they’ve lost. No one really has to. My guys don’t expect anyone to repay them, sympathize with them, or even understand why they do what they do. They choose this profession. They were made to do it. They are cut from a different cloth than the rest of the world. And yes, they look at the world without the comforting lens of innocence. It’s gone.