With the tragic murder of Sgt. Sean Gannon, there were so many beautiful stories and gut-wrenching moments that all bring him to life for those of us who never got the chance to meet him. One particular comment in a news article hit me especially hard; that his job was very demanding and he would often pick up extra shifts to earn more money and his wife would go out with the gang of friends without him while he was working.
I am the wife of a police officer and live those words in my everyday life. Many do not understand the sacrifice that men and women make becoming police officers and risking their lives each and every day to protect and serve the public. They leave knowing that they may have to give their lives to save a complete stranger. They may, as Sgt. Gannon did, attempt to arrest criminal thus protecting the public, and lose their life saving others. Every call, every car stop and every arrest could potentially end their life, but they still serve each and every day. They miss the birthday parties, impromptu gatherings, holiday family meals to make sure we can safely enjoy ours.
At this time, every person hearing of this tragedy is struck with grief and their show of support for all law enforcement officers is immeasurable. But, as it always does, days turn into weeks which turn into months, their support wains and the public is lulled into a sense of safety with the police once again become the enemy. Officers will be taken to task for sitting in their cruiser on the side of the road, not appearing attentive enough at a paid detail or argued with by a driver who was speeding or ran a red light not admitting their fault. Again, seen as the problem, not as the selfless heroes strapping on a gun and bullet proof vest each and every day as part of their uniform; something most of us never even think about.
This brings us back to the beginning; Sgt. Gannon’s extra shifts. Officers are asked, (and yes they chose this job) to risk their lives to protect and serve for a salary that rarely allows them to work just 40 hours a week. What is out of sheer survival to support their families with overtime and details is seen as greedy and self-serving. We are asking these amazing humans to not only respond to life threatening situations, but need to work 50 or 60 hours a week and spend more time away from their loved ones to just make ends meet. That is what I see as just one of the saddest parts of this, that Sgt. Gannon worked those extra shifts, clearly with love in his heart and a smile on his face just to afford to make a decent salary. How can we ask police officers to lay down their lives for us and not want them to have as much time as possible with the families that love and support them?
Months from now, when Sgt. Gannon’s picture is not on the front page of the paper, remember his sacrifice, remember his wife and family and their sacrifice and how lucky you are to have law enforcement officers protecting you. Speak kindly to the officer who stopped you for driving through the stop sign. Give a wave of support to the tired officer working the detail instead of being at home with their family. Do not harshly judge the officer who has fallen from grace in a job that has extreme stress and little praise. Always remember who is protecting you, and that each officer while appearing almost invincible is actually a human being like you, but is also willing to die for you every day.