One of the areas that firearms play a role in our family is something we’re pretty low key about.The big give-away to what that is...a squad car parked in our driveway. Yes, my husband is a police officer. That means we know and do some things that other families won’t ever think about. Here’s a few that are serious, as well as funny.
We know where the squad car keys are, we know how to start it. We keep it free from snow when Mark is gone in case another trooper needs it. In Wisconsin, this is funny because sometimes in winter, it seems futile.
We know where Mark’s police gear is and have some basic understanding of what he needs to have to get out the door for work if he is called on during a storm or something unscheduled. The laundry room is half full of things like his bullet proof vest, other gear, and half full of regular household items. But a law enforcement officer family becomes familiar with all the small pieces. The boys watch their dad check gear (laser and taser). Our youngest always seems fascinated with the calibrating or checking of things - tasers and radar and lasers…there’s a lot of accountability that happens at our house.
We know how uncomfortably hot wearing a bullet-proof vest is in summer...things most people don’t consider when they think about the cop in the squad car. We know that police officers sometimes work through hot days without AC because helping others is more important than their comfort. The same thing but in reverse in winter. Often, when it’s cold, the police have to just suck up the cold and be outside to help with a crash or get a stranded vehicle off the road.
A law enforcement officer’s squad car can hold the vital help we need in an emergency, but it can also hold everything from a frightened child while the EMTs arrive to help their family to the random life vests that fly off a weekend traveler’s boat.
Another item that our family knows about is the gun he carries for work. When we started shooting USPSA pistol, we all shot Glocks. For my husband, this was a great way to be proficient with the same platform of firearm he was required to carry for work. Since many police agencies only qualify and train once or twice a year, competition is a great way for LEO’s to become better skilled with one of the tools they carry. Competing with a gun also means you learn how to clean and troubleshoot that gun. This is another area many agencies don’t have time and manpower to spend training their people in, but with competition, it’s built into what you have to do to shoot well - your guns have to be clean! To clean them, you need to learn how to take them apart and put them back together.
Law enforcement families are usually pretty low key people - they see the sad, the happy, the real-life aspects of things that others take for granted. Guns, radios and court dates that interfere with things you’d rather be at, in-services and training days that have to happen - no matter what else you might like to do that day. But in the end, having an appreciation for people is at the heart of it. Appreciating that people often need help, and for that to happen, there has to be a helper. Sometimes that help is available to you and your family because of the kid packing their dad a lunch and filling his thermos to help him get out the door and into his squad car.
While everyone might not know an LEO family, we all can take time to appreciate that the firearms we all love are part of the lives of LEOs and their families. And when you see a police officer on his off time at the range, consider that they’re making themselves and you safer in the process.