Facing a Dilemma

My wife and I were blessed with a third child, our first son, later in life. I know that 42 is not exactly heading down the back of the hill but, when our other kids are 13 and 16, it can be a game changer to hear “I’m pregnant” coming from your wife’s mouth. But, it was a blessing none the less and neither of us know what we would do without him. It has left us with a bit of a dilemma – what do we tell him about our chosen profession?

My oldest daughter was born exactly one month before I started the academy and my second a few years later when I was still a rookie. Neither of them has ever known Dad to be anything but an LEO and my wife and I did not hide what I did. They spent their early years playing in my patrol car while I washed it or playing make believe in my uniform. I was proud of my profession and equally proud my kids seemed to be as well. But that was a different time.

Now, as my son approaches four years old, he is beginning to understand a little about what I do. I rarely wear a uniform anymore and drive an unmarked unit, but boys are boys and not much escapes his notice. Plus, he likes super heroes and knows that LEOs are good guys too. But times have changed in the past 18 years and, while I am still 110% devoted to my profession, I am not so sure I want my son exposed to the same degree as my daughters were.

LE JobWhen my daughters were four, I thought nothing of picking up an extra small F.O.P t-shirt for them to wear at the playground. Today I would not only think twice about doing that, I also find myself reconsidering wearing my own shirt when I go out and he is with me. What happened to change my attitude? Simply put, the world has become a harder, colder place and LEOs find themselves right in the middle of it.

Don’t get me wrong; I never believed the world was all sunshine and rainbows but there were rules and lines which were not crossed. There was a time when even the worst offender, someone who truly hated your guts and blamed you for all the wrong that has befallen them, would never even consider approaching you off duty. They would certainly never approach your family. Now it is not just the criminals you need to worry about, it is the everyday want-to-be thug, looking to make a name for himself or show off in a YouTube video who is liable to consider any LEO a target. On duty, off duty, having lunch with your fellow officers or walking your son to the park – we have all become potential targets.

I am sorry to say that while I may still be proud of my profession and all that it has allowed me to accomplish, I have second thoughts about exposing my son to that side of my life. Once I thought nothing would make me more proud than to have him follow in my footsteps. I still dream about that happening, but sometimes it seems like more of a nightmare.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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