It has happened to all of us. Those dreaded “police work” questions. You meet your husband for a quick bite to eat before his shift starts, he is in his uniform and his patrol car is parked outside. You get 20, quick minutes of “family time” and your husband is approached by a citizen asking for some quick advice. Or how about, your husband is off for the weekend (FINALLY!!) and your neighbors see his patrol car parked in your driveway. He quickly steps outside to check the mail but 20 minutes later he is still outside. He has been stopped by a neighbor, who is asking for “advice” on a legal or civil matter.
What makes people think police officer’s are always on duty? That they are an open book for advice, 24/7? This does not come from a place of mean, but this is something that truly baffles me.
When a police officer is clearly off duty, it is important to respect their time off. While police want you to feel comfortable approaching them, in a time of need, please ask yourself if what you are approaching them for could be solved by calling a non-emergency number.
Questions to NOT ask a police officer and his family
I am sure all of our husbands have been approached in one way or another. Often times we are with him when it occurs. Some common questions/phrases we have heard asked or said:
-“Oh, you’re a cop, do you know so and so?”
-“I don’t want to call the police, so could I ask you a few questions?”
-“Have you ever shot anyone?”
-“How many dead people have you seen?”
-“Is your job scary?”
-“Can I touch your gun?”
-“If you are working undercover and I ask you if you are a cop, you have to tell me the truth, right?”
-“Can your husband get me out of a ticket?”
While some of these sayings can be comical, they also begin to get annoying. Very annoying.
What to do/say when it happens
If your officer is approached or your family, while your husband is off duty, then it is okay to politely tell them, “I am sorry. He is not currently working.” Your husband can say this to citizens, or if you are with friends or neighbors and feel comfortable around them, then it is acceptable for you to say this, as well. People need to understand that your officer is not at their disposal whenever they want him to be.
A line must be drawn for the men and women of law enforcement and their families.
I must mention though, my husband will always speak to children and answer their questions. He wants to show them to not be afraid of police and they can always approach first responders in a safe way.
To our lovely friends, neighbors, and non-law enforcement families:
Please, from a law enforcement family, I ask you to respect the time off a police officer has. Just as your work day ends when you leave the office, a police officer’s day must end when the shift ends. Mentally, our officer’s need time away from the job. They need time to spend with their family, not always thinking about the stresses of police work. Please do not interrupt our meals for your questions. While police officer’s love assisting and helping others, there is a time and a place for this. If you have non-emergency questions, we politely ask you to call the non-emergency number of your local law enforcement agency.
It may be helpful for you to understand why law enforcement families say “no” a lot, too. Quality time is important to us and we ask that that be understood. Friends, don’t be sorry about explaining that your husband is off duty. I am sure many officers say this on their own, but just in case they are not present, don’t hesitate to protect your husband’s time off.
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