Editor’s note: The author is the wife of retired Anaheim PD Capt. Joe Vargas
For 30 years I had to deal with the realities of being married to a police officer. My husband is now retired, but the realities of police work are still on the front page every day.
Today’s hateful environment is unlike any I’ve ever seen.
The day after the shootings in Dallas, I was at church when a very distraught woman came to the office. My son, an associate pastor, asked her how he could help her.
She explained her husband is a police officer and she was scared to death for him. Then the tears came.
“There are people killing cops out there and I’m so scared for our family.”
I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight.
She shared with me the difficulty of knowing her husband is a target, simply because he wears a badge.
She explained: “This is a man who whose heart was broken over the holidays by a child molestation investigation. It tore him apart.”
“How did he become a target just because he wears a badge? He’s not just a police officer. He’s my husband. He’s a good man.”
My heart broke for her as we spoke. I prayed with her, comforted her and shared with her.
I told her, “Your husband is doing what he feels is right. He is doing something he loves to do. Just pray God watches over him.”
The next day, I received a text message from a young lady I know. She is engaged to a police officer. She too is scared and wondering about all the craziness going on in the world. We made arrangements to get together.
We forget the target that is placed on the backs of police officers also affects their families. The men and women who wear the badge are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends.
As a police officer’s wife, I was part of what my husband did. In many ways I experienced the job with him.
I knew the dangers and risk. That became my normal. I would kiss him goodbye but that awful feeling always sits there in the back of your mind. Lord, please take care of him.
I lived through the worst parts including losing comrades. I’ve been to too many police funerals. I’ve grieved with the families and seen their hurt and pain.
But, I’ve also seen the joy and fulfillment his calling brought to him. He just didn’t like his work. He loved it.
At the end of the day, my husband came home to our family. He was just like any father playing and laughing with his kids, kissing them goodnight as he tucked them into bed. The next day he would put on his uniform and badge, kiss us goodbye and leave us.
Back then I prayed for his safety. I prayed for his partners and those out with him. I trusted God would take care of him. I knew he was a good police officer.
I also trusted he would not allow himself to come to harm. That, of course, was always my greatest fear.
But I wouldn’t change anything.
It’s a calling to be a police officer. But it’s also a calling to be a police officer’s wife. It’s an honor to be a police officer and an honor to be a police officer’s wife.
I can’t help wondering how many scared families there are right now sending their spouses out onto the streets.
I hope there is someone nearby to hug them tight and tell them they’re going to be OK.