Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This worries me most

When we got home from aikido tonight, I returned a call to my best friend, Jenny. 

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"I was just wondering how you were, in light of what happened today to the police officer in Phoenix."

"Ohh.  Um, I'm sad, but I'm ok." 

"Are you sure?  I know that this gets to you."

"Sure, Jen.  I'll be fine."  (Then why am I so upset?)

Today, unfortunately, a veteran Phoenix police officer was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.   

I get asked alot about "How do you do it?  Don't you worry?"  when people find out Mr W is a police officer.  And I tell them that every job has potential dangers, some more than others.  That I have faith in him and his training, and his fellow officers.  That I know he's not gonna do anything stupid, and it's the other (bad) guy that I have to worry about. 

People have the misconception, in my opinion, that it's a dramatic, shoot-em out situation when an officer goes down, like something out of a movie.  In the nearly 11 years since Mr W has been a police officer, I've come to the realization that while bad things happen all the time, it seems they usually happen during something routine. 

A motorist doesn't see the motorcycle officer standing by the car he pulled over, and hits him.

A domestic violence call goes bad, and the boyfriend pulls out a gun.

An officer is in a pursuit, and someone runs into him as they run the red light.

And then there's the routine traffic stop, the thing they all do everyday, all the time.  Speeding.  Expired tags.  Drunk drivers.  No lights.  Unsafe lane changes.  The things people complain about the most "I can't believe the stupid cop stopped me because ____! (grumble, grumble)"

These guys are just doing their jobs, the thing they have been trained to do.  While it's easy to berate the person standing there writing you a speeding ticket in one breath,  in the next, should you be calling on them for assistance in the middle of the night, who are you happy to see standing on the other side of the door? 

Everyday, they go to work, carrying a gun and other equipment on a duty belt that is a constant weighty reminder of what potentially lies ahead.  And all they want to do at the end of the day is be able to go home and take it off.  Would you be willing to do this, day in and day out; to go to work carrying a gun and know that you might have to use it?  Or that you might have one used on you?  I'm not saying that they don't know this when they sign up for the gig, I'm just saying that before you complain about having to go to driving school, you should think about what the job really entails for them besides inconveniencing you out of a Saturday.

I'd be lying if I said I never worried about Mr W anymore.   Of course I do.  Just like I worry about my brother and the other officers that I know.  It's something that is constantly just under the surface, far enough down so it doesn't consume me, yet close enough that when things like what happen today happen, I am in a state of heightened alert for a while.  The fact that he is potentially not coming back is something we face everytime he walks out the door to go to work.  Overly dramatic?  Maybe.  But I'm being true to the job, and that's something that I just can't turn my back on.

Right now, he leaves while we are still sleeping, but I usually hear him.  I lay there and watch him go from room to room, checking on the kids, patting a head or two.  If I'm awake enough, I try to get up and close the door behind him.  I have my little 'be careful' that I say to him as he's walking away.  When he comes home for lunch or something, should we all be home, the kids swarm him before he leaves, getting in a hug and making me smile as I hear a chorus of 'be careful, Dad.'  And unless he has  to bolt out the door for a call, he always stops and lets them.  As for me, I try to keep our relationship ducks in a row.  I never want to get that visit, but should it ever happen, I don't want our last conversation to have been about who forgot to take out the trash. 

Today, Officer David Uribe, a 22-yr-veteran police officer, went to work, just like any other day.

He just isn't gonna be able to make it back home.


screaminremo303 said...

Deb used to fret whenever I wasn't home on time, sometimes calling me in the middle of some late-night clusterf**k when I least had the time to talk. I finally pointed out that she less to worry about because I wasn't home or hadn't called, because if something else happened she would have been awakened by a knock on the front door by people she didn't really want to see.

Amen. She told me years ago she knows I'm safe when she hears the sound of opening velcro coming from the spare bedroom.

mombzbe said...

I have to agree with Ms Lovely, Remo.  Other than the sound of the workboots hitting the floor, no other noise can make me breathe easier than the sound of Velcro being ripped open.
And I also got the talk from Mr W about unwanted visitors at my door...which is why I got a phone call that day he had his accident instead.  The man is laid out on a stretcher, and he has enough thought to still tell them "DON'T send someone to my house."  You guys--amazing.

perkysgrl said...

This January, my husband's department lost one of their veteran officers to a ambush.  He had been on the force for many, many years... Another officer was injured trying to save him... So, this entry has hit home because that event is still fresh in all of our minds.  I worry about my husband every day that he heads off to work knowing that could possibly, God Forrbid, be the last time I or our children see him... See, he was supposed to be at the call that the other officer lost his life at... I guess something or someone protected him from going... And just like you mentioned, I love the sound of the garage door opening and hearing him taking his vest off... It means he is home safe for one more night... Thank you for sharing this entry...

deniden said...

I just read this in Remo's journal. Makes me feel sick to my stomach and want to cry at the same time - it makes me feel better that my dad's off the street now, but it makes me feel sad that so many others are on the street still, in the line of danger.


suzypwr said...

I am very sorry.
But - your attitude is great!
"Be careful" - to Mr W.

ajsproudparents said...

Im sorry to hear about this officer, his poor family who had planned on him coming home.
You are right about all jobs having dangers.
Thank your husband for his job.
My husband is from Phoenix, and we will be visiting there next week! Thanks for that link to that website. Sadly, last time I was on that website was last year when that set of teenage twins were hit by a drunkdriver and one died off central! My brother knew them. Sad.
Take care Mr and Mrs W
:My Fairytale:

jussisaac said...

hey?im so sry bout tha afraid that officers willget killed.thats y i dont wanna b 1.well take care and i luv ur entries.Bye.


tfizz252 said...

Dear Ms.W
Ofc.W is really very luck o have a wife who understands just what it's all about being an officer. I applaud how you describe and defend "the job". This story really upset me even though I'm working out of Boston because we are all brothers faithful to the badge. If one is hurt or killed like in this case every officer feels something.