I am a police officer’s daughter.
Technically, a retired one as of October 2015. I grew up with donut deliveries before school with police lights glowing, a locker and binder covered in silver CRPD stickers, and a group of Police “Uncles” who looked out for me always. I remember him missing bedtime because he worked nights, sleeping during school, and picking us up to get a few hours in before heading back in. I remember counting down the days until the summer police picnic, watching the police softball league, and thinking my dad was a real life super hero with the coolest job in the world.
That was my reality as a police officer’s daughter 25 years ago. I didn’t hear negative things because social media wasn’t at our fingertips. My dad and his friends were widely respected and just like today, I was so proud. With Police Appreciation Week this week, I wanted to pick the brains of two retired officers to get some insight into what once was, what is, and what life is like after the badge comes off.
Tell me about what you did over the course of being a police officer?
Dad: SWAT team for 10 years, Bicycle officer, and Patrolman
Roger: Patrol Car, Training Officer, and Helicopter Pilot
Would you become a Police Officer if you could do it all over again?
Dad: I would do it again but only for 5-10 years and move onto something else….like President of the United States! (HAHA). I loved it for the first half of my career, not as much the last half. Why? Politics.
Roger: 100% without a doubt. I liked being a cop.
What was your favorite thing about being an officer?
Dad: The rush of busting the bad guys-the real bad guys. Car chases, adrenaline rushes. Being on the SWAT team, and the guys.
Roger: When I was flying.
Thoughts on the outlook on Police officers the last few years?
Dad: Terrible. It’s sad. No respect…and that’s from the leadership on down.
Roger: They have a lot harder of a job now. A lot more scrutiny than what we had.
Would you say there are bad cops?
Dad: Yes. There are bad people everywhere. Granted, Police officers should be held to a higher standard.
Roger: Very much so.
Dad: Oh man, there’s a lot. The SWAT team – in particular an arrest warrant on a drug dealer. SWAT team went in and the guy was armed. Shot at us on 3 foot wide stairs. I was the defensemen, my buddy was the shield and took 5 rounds in the shield.
You kids thought Arresting Andre the Giant was pretty cool.
Oh, and chasing the guy on the motorcycle when Roger and I were riding together. I was driving and a kid on a stolen motorcycle was coming up 4th Avenue the wrong way. I put the lights on and he took off down the alley. He lost control and was leaning onto a bank so I stopped the car. Roger got out and jumped on the back of the guy on the motorcycle. But the guy used his leg and straightened out and took off with Roger on the back. Roger had to rock him back and forth to get the guy off the bike. He hurt his rotator cuff, but we got the bad guy.
And then another stolen motorcycle chase. We went chased him all the way to Tama. Caught him when the guy on the motorcycle ran out of gas. One of the officers ran out of gas too!
Roger: Well here’s a funny memory: Collecting the California Raisins and laying them out across the front dash. The one with the saxophone lit up when the lights were on! Also, riding with your Dad and Mr. Ed – my best buds. And definitely flying. While flying, within a month, we found two Alzheimers patients who had wandered off.
One night, we had ordered a pizza and went to pick it up after roll call. We were sitting eating our pizza, when some kid who was car racing went zooming by at 75mph or so in a 35. We turned the lights on and went after him. He eventually pulls into what ended up being his own driveway and runs in. Your dad runs in after him and tackles him into the couch. He was a young high school kid. We wrote him a citation and went on our way. We found out his dad was actually the one who called in the car racing, not knowing it was his kid doing the racing!
Would you want to be a cop today?
Dad: No. Not the way the world is now. People love firemen, but hate cops. Both are service men and women. Both are protecting people.
Roger: Knowing what I knows now, no. If I were young and naïve, yes.
What’s changed the most?
Both: The level of disrespect now compared to when I started is not comparable. We started to feel like a social worker or parent rather than an officer at times. Technology, too. Cameras and printers….didn’t have any of that when we started. Social media as well.
Do you miss it now that you’re retired?
Dad: Don’t miss the service, I miss the people. It’s hard to watch what’s happening now. One bad apple ruins them all. Most of us are good guys. Just like with everything and everyone else.
Roger: I miss the clowns, not the circus.
What would you tell people about Police Officers that they might not know?
Dad: We are just like anybody else. Just people.
Roger: We are humans too. Good ones and bad ones. Bad ones make it a lot harder for the good ones to do their job. We can’t be perfect, people want us to, be but we can’t. Give us a break every once in a while, too.
I had so much fun sitting and listening to them share their stories, worries, joys, and disappointments. They could have told stories for hours, and I could have listened just as long. It was a reminder to me that, just like with any job, there are politics and frustrations, laughter, and change. Good change, and bad change.
Despite some of the negative messages out there, I hope that all children who have a loved one putting on that badge on every day can feel just as proud as I always did.
This post is one of our 5-part Police Week series. Be sure to check out the others here:
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