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The Rookie Spouse

By Sue Woods, Editor/Publisher of
Spouses of Police Officers

Looking back on my first year as an officer's wife is quite humorous today. You have to understand something about me first. I had no conceivable comprehension of what I was cavorting into when I said "I do"to my husband David. Noone on either side of my parent's had ever been in law enforcement. Not even a reserve officer in our
family history. Our relatives are diverse. We have a public accountant, railroaders, grocery store owners, insurance salesmen, one priest and one lawyer, but never public safety.

To say I was "green" about the law enforcement profession is a generous statement. I felt a lot like Goldie Hawn in the movie Pvt. Benjamin. I believed David would go to work and come home around 5:00 p.m. (I knew better but I could hope) and we would discuss the day's events, eat our dinner and spend quality time with the children.

Well after the first month, something was really wrong, David went from working the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. to the "power shift" 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. What kind of shift was that? How were we supposed to go out with our friends and do all the things friends did on Friday or Saturday nights? Was I supposed to do this alone? What about church on sundays? I didn't figure the shift work aspect of the occupation and I was sure I didn't like it either.

As our first summer together was approaching and David still working this "power shift," the kids were getting ready to play baseball, swim team and color guard. I found out quick that you really can get to two practices if you plan your schedule right. Additionally, I learned that while David couldn't make many of the activities of the children, the value of a video camcorder is priceless when your spouse is working a different shift than the rest of the world.

When the end of our first year (my rookie year) was arriving, I learned to "adapt" to shift work and the police profession. I am not saying I like all of it, but I found a way to compliment my spouse's career choice. Plan your time or time will get away from you. In this career the job can tear families apart because of isolation and loneliness. The profession can also foster closeness and camaraderie not found else where. I am proud that I married a police officer. I have grown because of David's profession. The opportunity to stretch and develop our relationship may not have been available to us if David had been in another career. You don't take your spouse granted in this job.

Now, as David has crossed his 24th year in law enforcement and our 10th anniversary you think that I have become accustomed to the pitfalls of shift and police work. Well, some areas I have accepted and other domains need improvement, but I love a challenge and David knows it.

As he came home from work two weeks ago, he announced that he has been selected an American contingent of the International Police Task Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As pleased and proud I am that he has been selected the first year feelings as an officer's wife is surfacing again.

Life is always interesting in law enforcement.

The views of the contributors to this publication are not necessarily the
position of On-Duty. They send it, you read it.

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