A few months ago, I took an informal survey on Facebook asking people what their reaction is to seeing a police car: positive or negative?

The majority answered, “Negative.”

This probably doesn’t surprise those of you in law enforcement. “We’ve been around 100-something odd years, and they still look at you the same way,” said a retired Connecticut state trooper I once interviewed.

When we’re young, we resent our parents because they dole out discipline. They tell us what candy we can’t eat, ground us, say “No!” to ponies and puppies, and make us eat our peas.

When we’re old enough, we leave our grade-school neighborhoods and strike out on our own. We get to decide how late we stay out, how many friends we have over (and who stays overnight), which ice cream we’re going to eat for breakfast, and what kind of puppy to buy.

But then, the moment we’re finally free of our parents, you come along.

You tell us we can’t drive faster than the speed limit. You put us in jail. You say “No!” to all the fun things that are illegal.

You replace the parents we had when we were younger, the ones from under whose thumbs we couldn’t wait to squirm free, and for that, we resent you.

But, that said, thank you.

Thank you for being the ones to show up when we’re getting our faces pummeled by a loved one.

Thank you for getting out of your cruiser and walking up to the driver’s side window of a car whose occupants are almost always a mystery to you.

Thank you for continuing with your work even when the apathy in the eyes of those you encounter on a fairly regular basis would make most want to give up.

Thank you for being patient when we’re underage and drunk and insufferably obnoxious as you try to cuff us.

Thank you for finding our stolen bikes and cars.

Thank you for finding our killers.

Thank you for helping us when we’re stranded on the side of the road.

Thank you for being the first to enter our homes when we think there might be someone dangerous inside.

Thank you for putting in the many less interesting hours of sitting and/or driving around, your presence at once a deterrent and an assurance of security.

Thank you for volunteering to be the barrier between criminal and victim, for your willingness to spend decades among an element the rest of us would prefer to avoid, and for doing it on a daily basis with the knowledge that not only will we often fail to appreciate you, but we’ll go one step further and treat you with scorn, too many of us probably even making a few grunting-pig noises with our cop-and-donut jokes.

Here’s wishing you a safe and happy new year.

If anyone has a particular “thank you” for law enforcement, I invite you to please write it in the comments. My list feels woefully short.

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Wow! This is a great piece. Thank you for writing it, Kris. I really appreciate the acknowledgement and I know the cops working the streets tonight, away from their families and loved ones, will appreciate your sentiment. 🙂

    Reply
  2. In the winter of 1990, I was 20, single, and freshly laid off from a decent paying job I foolishly thought was recession proof. I ended up working two minimum wage jobs that left me with no extra money for things like the registration fee on my car. Thank you, local police officers, for stretching a point and not giving me a ticket for the three months I drove around with an expired car while I saved up. Above and beyond the job doesn’t begin to cover it.

    Reply
  3. Thanks to all those police officers and correctional officers who never get the proper thank-you from any of us…Many times a thankless task when all they are doing is the job we as citizens expect them to do…Add to that the nurses, firefighters, doctors, and EMS people who risk their lives and work on days many others would never dain to work, or nights….

    Reply

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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