For public safety workers, Thanksgiving is just another day at work


What is your Thanksgiving Day like?

For some, it means spending time with family while eating turkey and watching football.

For others, it means getting in line at Walmart or Best Buy for that $15 TV. My wife’s family rents a hall where up to 100 people show up in Michigan. All of these things are part of the Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Most people don’t think about it, but Thanksgiving is also a normal work day for cops, firefighters and dispatchers.

My first job was at Disneyland when I was 17 as a junior in high school. Thanksgiving night in 1988 was my first holiday away from my family. Since then, I have worked many Thanksgiving nights as a police officer.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal time has always been scheduled around my job. Eating early is part of our “normal” holiday tradition.

This Thanksgiving Day, many cops, firefighters, and dispatchers will schedule their family time around work. Some will work during the day and come home to a late dinner. Some will get a late call and come home after their kids have already gone to bed.

Some will have their dinner interrupted because they were called to work to investigate a homicide or some other tragedy. Others will work the night shift and have to leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go to work.

This is all part of the sacrifice we make for others. It’s part of the sacrifice our spouses and kids also make. This is a sacrifice most people never think of or talk about. Our families share us with strangers so we can help others. It’s part of the job.

This Thursday night I will be working like many other cops, who are away from their families on Thanksgiving. If you happen to see one of us, make sure to wave (with all five fingers) and say Happy Thanksgiving. I guarantee they’ll smile and say thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Editor’s NoteJohn Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 ( His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. will share some of his columns.You can also follow him on Facebook at