By Lacey Owen
In light of recent articles by the NZ Herald highlighting incidents of assaults against our Police force, the near fatal shooting at an Auckland officer and the king hit on a Whanganui officer to name a few, makes today ever more poignant.
Tomorrow, September 29th (observed today September 28th for 2018) marks not only Police Remembrance Day but another year gone by that I am thankful to still have my husband and father of my children safely by my side. This day pays tribute to Police officers slain on duty, or those who died as a result of their duties as well as remembers Police staff who have passed away that year.
When the all too familiar sound of his pager starts blaring, it's a sound that can't be ignored, a sound that for him signals urgency but for me potential doom. As he drops everything and races out the door I always contemplate whether that will be our last kiss?
While I pace the kitchen trying to keep busy, he's out in the darkness though I have no idea where? I usually spend the next few hours thinking back over the evening kicking myself for getting angry that he hadn't emptied the dishwasher and get annoyed that we got frustrated at the kids for what looked like they'd dive bombed into the bath tub. I find myself willing him to come home. Those can't be the last memories we have.
This isn't a profession for the faint hearted. It's a thankless job and one filled with dangerous conditions that are only increasing in severity. Keep reading. See if you have what it takes....
Could you rouse a household knowing the words you speak will shatter the occupants world? Inform a parent whose been awoken from their peaceful slumber, to tell them their teen, who has been raised so lovingly is now lying on a cold steel gurney in the hospital morgue?
Could you care for young children found home alone whose parents have left them ankle deep in rubbish and wearing nothing but a soiled nappy? They've been conditioned to hate Police so your attempts to aid them are met with hostility. I'd bet you didn't know such young beings could have such filthy mouths both literally and figuratively.
Could you attend a death? Believe it or not, not everyone dies peacefully in their beds. Could you cut the rope lowering a person to the ground knowing you were too late to save them? Could you collect body parts strewn along the tar seal after they've come off their motorcycle? Pry a dead baby from its' Mothers arms as she wails and falls to pieces in front of your eyes knowing not a single thing you say will bring her any relief or comfort.
Could you take on a 6ft male fried out of his mind on P? Do you realise the strength they possess while in that condition and the danger they pose to Police trying to placate & contain them, all for the greater good?
Could you work in all elements? From rain so hard it feels like needles stinging your cheeks to 30 degree heat in long trousers and a sabre weighing 10kg that is non negotiable. It's there to hopefully save your life after all.
Could you enter a house armed with only a taser in the knowledge there's possibly an offender waiting to greet you? With potentially a bullet mind you, not a hand shake.
The average working person is not likely to face gang members, poverty, death, mental and physical abuse. Incur grazed knuckles, banged up knees and the occasional black eye. Not likely to come in contact with an array of weapons, drugs, needles, blood, spit, p***, s*** and vomit.
Yes this is awful. Yes this is confronting. And yes, this is the reality our men and women in blue face on daily basis.
When the average New Zealander leaves their family to fulfil their obligation to their employer, they can generally say in good faith that they'll return safely at the end of their day. Not a Police officer.
Him not coming home to us is a real possibility. Yes we all face the unknown each day but in this profession and with the danger increasing by the day, the odds are significantly higher.
Please don't mistake my heightened anxiety for regret or complaint. Words can't describe how incredibly proud I am of my husband and we stand behind him in support 100%.
So today we stop to remember. To give thanks to those who've lost their lives while dutifully protecting ours, while holding their family and friends in our thoughts. We will cuddle our children a wee bit longer, squeeze them a wee bit tighter. I'll even let hubby off emptying the dishwasher forever thankful I'm not grieving today from firsthand experience.
I am a Police wife living in hope that I never become a Police widow.