Police funeral

It’s not normal, to see the things police officers see, hear, smell, touch and experience.

It’s not normal, to carry the burdens police officers do, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

It’s not normal, to see dead bodies, mangled bodies, decomposed bodies, dead kids, abused kids, homeless people suffering, and people victimized, taken advantage of, raped or killed.

It’s not normal, to respond to scenes of horrific suicides, fatal car accidents, gang violence, domestic violence, random violence, dead animals, and abused animals.

It’s not normal, to tell a family member their loved one has died and won’t be coming home during a death notification call for service.

It’s not normal, to respond to shooting calls where you watch someone take their last breath, or stabbing calls that make you cringe when you see their flesh cut wide open and blood everywhere.

It’s not normal, to stand next to a dead body for hours securing a crime scene, waiting for the coroner to arrive, so you can go eat dinner, as if nothing happened, as if “it’s just another call”.

It’s not normal, that seeing such horrific things becomes your “normal” and you tell yourself it doesn’t bother you. It’s not normal, to be numb to things that would likely devastate the rest of society.

It’s not normal, to experience extreme highs and lows in one day, one minute you’re  typing a report and the next you’re responding to the local business being held up at gunpoint with shots fired. It happens that fast, it is fun in some ways, but it’s not normal.

It’s not normal, to work rotating shifts, rotating days off, work on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and maintain a semblance of a “normal” life. It’s not normal, to miss these moments in life and expect it not to take a toll on a marriage or the relationship with your children.

It’s not normal, to slowly lose friends that aren’t police officers too. It’s not normal to say, “they just don’t understand me anymore” or “they don’t know what it is like to be a police officer”. It’s not normal, for lifelong friends to wonder why you’ve changed, become more cynical or even angry and distance themselves from you.

It’s not normal, to go to work and not know what time you will get to go home, or if you’ll even make it home at all.

It’s not normal, to wake up at night in a cold sweat because you dreamed you got shot multiple times by a “bad guy” and you were powerless to stop it. It’s not normal, to lie in bed unable to sleep, because all the things you saw that day play in your head like a bad movie you can’t turn off.

It’s not normal, that nearly every call you answer, someone is counting on YOU to help them. They may be at their lowest point, maybe they are experiencing a crisis, a loss, and you have to be there for them, no matter what is going on in your personal life.

It’s not normal, that you as a human being could be personally dealing with a crisis, a divorce, a dying family member, alcohol addiction, or thoughts of suicide, and you’re expected to show up and solve other people’s problems with no regard for your own.

It’s not normal, to go to work every day in hopes of making a positive change or influence in someone’s life only to be spit at, kicked, punched, stabbed, or shot. It’s not normal, to feel you can’t “win”, no matter what you do, or how many lives you save or stickers you give to kids.

It’s not normal, that simply sitting in your work vehicle being present, can get you shot and killed because the decal on that work vehicle said, “POLICE” on it, like NYPD Officers Liu, Ramos, and Familia. Gone, but not forgotten.

It’s not normal, to be shot while eating dinner, minding your own business, only because the patch on your shoulder said, “POLICE”, like Florida Sheriff’s Deputies Sergeant Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey. Gone, but not forgotten.

It’s not normal, to never be “off duty”. To always be alert, aware, cautious, even concerned, that you may be a target at any given time due to your chosen profession.

It’s not normal, you do the job and maintain a professional demeanor or smile while holding back tears, because in the end you know, someone has to do it and you’re proud that you aren’t normal.

It’s not normal, to attend a funeral for a coworker who died doing the same job as you, almost annually.

It’s not normal, that no matter how much all these things bother you, you couldn’t see yourself doing any other job, because carrying this burden is what you were meant to do. This is your calling.

You are not normal, you’re a police officer.

Luckily their normal is not your normal. If you’re reading this and you aren’t a police officer, some of the things you just read may have bothered you. Odds are good, the images that popped into your head made you uncomfortable, or were hard to think about or even picture. I hope this was the case, because that is a police officer’s daily reality. At the very least, I hope it changes your perspective of police officers and what it is they actually do and experience every single day.

This topic isn’t widely talked about among police officers, for a multitude of reasons. To start, it isn’t a fun topic to talk about. Yes, there are times that officers gather and share “war stories” about all the crazy things they have seen and dealt with. But don’t think for a minute, that the ugliness of it all isn’t still lurking beneath the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head when they least expect it.

Most officers simply choose not to talk about these things and change the subject when asked about what “crazy things they’ve seen”.  Some may even lie and say “nothing crazy has happened lately” just to avoid the topic altogether. Most officers don’t rush home to tell their significant other what they saw or experienced during their shift. For most, it’s easier to say, “Today was fine” or “I don’t want to talk about it” to avoid the conversation and having to relive the bad things they may have seen or experienced that day.

This sort of behavior is common, a defense mechanism if you will. Over time, police become “numb” to seeing the worst side of society. But in the end, it’s still there, lurking and waiting to show up in their subconscious again. It’s like a pressure cooker that constantly gets tested to see how much more can be fit inside. Almost inevitably, it eventually gives way and explodes. Sadly, it can explode in many different forms.

For some, it explodes in the form of an unexplainable outburst, angry rage, or reaction to something that normally wouldn’t bother that person. For others, they may just break down and cry inexplicably until they feel better, not really knowing what triggered it to happen. Some turn to alcohol or other substances to mask the pain or feelings, which lead them down a path of destruction. No two people are the same, therefore, no two police officers are the same. They all experience different things in their careers and each thing affects them differently than the next officer.

Maybe now when you see them, you don’t just see a man or woman in a uniform that took an oath to protect you, but also a person who runs toward the things most run away from each and every day. They see things so you don’t have to see them. They carry a heavy burden and do it because they were chosen to carry it, so you don’t have to.

Being a police officer is much more than writing traffic tickets, breaking up a fun little house party with underage high school kids, or responding to the fender bender to facilitate the exchange of personal information. A police officer is much more than what meets the eye or what you see on television.

People in society simply create their image of what something or someone is, based on their personal experiences and that makes total sense. For example, if your only experience with police officers is being pulled over for speeding, I imagine it is possible you haven’t thought about what a police officer experiences on a daily basis.

I hope this article changes that. The next time you read about a fatality car accident or horrible tragedy, feel sympathy and empathy for the victims, but don’t forget the people responding to the scene, what they experienced and how they are affected too.

I fully recognize that police officers chose their profession and I also recognize that, “if they don’t like it, they can quit.” Some people try being a police officer, only to find out, “it isn’t for them” and kudos to them for having the courage to admit that.

I firmly believe it isn’t a job, it’s a calling. If you become a police officer solely to pay the bills, you are likely not the kind of police officer most people want on their department or patrolling their community.

Being a police officer is recognizing that you will see the worst side of humanity that society has to offer and you accept that as your normal. Chances are good that when a police officer starts their career, they have thought about these things but didn’t quite know what it actually meant until they experienced it firsthand.

It takes a special kind of person to do this job, one that isn’t…”normal”.

To the hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in blue around the world, who put their lives and their “normal” on the line every day, thank you.

Don’t be afraid to admit if you’re struggling, need help, or just want to talk to someone. As weird as it may seem to you, asking for help is “normal”.

Thank an officer today.

– The Officer Next Door



    • Great article!
      I appreciate each and every law enforcement officer. I recognize the sacrifices they make everyday. God bless them all.
      I Back the Blue!

      • I dachshund blue! I have a nephew who is a police officer and have the utmost respect for all those who put their lives on the line every day so we can be safe! This is a chosen career and they do see the worst of the worst and deal with the baddest of the bad! God bless them all to keep them safe each and every day! And thank you for all each and every officer does!

    • Brother this is one of the best articles I’ve read explaining the life of anyone wearing the blue. I’ve struggled with PTSD for a long time and this article nails it on the head for anyone wondering why.

    • So very true. As a member with family in law enforcement and family in fire,I cannot ever imagine the stuff they go through in a day nor the stuff they see and hear. All I know Is that I respect and pray daily for all first responders. I thank them whenever I can. Cant thank them enough! I do and always will back the blue!!!

  1. Excellent article. By far the best yet. And no, it is not normal. Not even for support personnel. Well done.

  2. Wonderful article. As a social worker and former wife of a career law enforcement officer, embracing counseling in your life and your family’s life is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Thank you for sharing. Be safe!

  3. Great article! As a group, police officers are an incredible group of people. Some are fantastic some are just good. I didnt know any in my 36 years that were out and out bad or evil. What they endure is what most people can’t imagine! I wish people knew about all the fantasic things I have seen police officers do never wanting recognition, or a thank you. But back in the day there was no social media to record any of these great kind acts. I am happy officers of today; that mow a lawn, help a homeless man shave, tie a tie get credit. The Law Enforcement community needs to show this side more often.

    • Totally agree. We plan to try and highlight these things as this website grows and progresses. However, the biggest difficulty is officers letting you share their stories of good deeds. Many prefer to keep it “under their hats” because it’s part of their job. They’re humble and rightfully so…

      One brick at a time. One article at a time we will try to build this into something great.

  4. Cantu and I were talking the other day about the amount of friends we had that were killed. You never get over it. We pretend that we do, but we don’t. Great article, brother

  5. Very well said Chris! I’ve always wondered how y’all accept what you see, and assimilate that into a normal life. I got a speeding ticket yesterday, and all I could say to the Officer was thank you, and I’m so grateful for what you do. I hope I made his day! Thank you for sharing, and for what you do every day. You make a difference!

  6. A very touching and beautifully written POV!
    The PD OFFICERS deserve to be seen as “human beings” first with loving families to raise and to love! HATS OFF TO THE BLUES! Officers 👮‍♀️ 👮‍♀️

  7. Thank you to all the officers for giving their all to us! Your position has got to be one of the most difficult careers on earth!

  8. Reminds me of a line I heard in a movie once – “you people wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen….all these memories will be lost in time, like tears in rain”. Roy Batty in ‘Blade Runner’

  9. This article was wonderful. It opened my eyes to what the police officers have to deal with each and everyday then head home to their family and live their lives. Thank you each and every one of you for the job you do. Please use the services like westchester blue, to help deal with the stress sadness and horrible things that you must see and deal eith. We support you all.

  10. The best job in the world and the fastest 30 years I ever spent. I wish I could do it again but grateful for the opportunity to have done it once. You did a great job on that article and much of it hit home. Keep up the good work and thanks.

      • Wonderful article. It has to open the eyes of many people who never realized what life is like for a police officer.
        Thank you for writing this and thank you for your service❤️

  11. I’m still on the job after 31 years. I’ve gone from patrol to Captain and my main focus as a leader is to make certain my officer’s mental health is taken care of because mine wasn’t. Great article. Thank you. Be well my brothers and sisters.

  12. This should be required reading for anyone thinking about being a cop. I retired after 38 years felt like I did some good, helped some people and generally held the line. At times I felt battered and bruised and because of it didn’t do a great job in my personal life. I was a third generation police officer and frankly thought it ended with me in my family. This article is timely because this morning my 17 year old son started asking hesitantly about how to get into law enforcement. I am going to have him read this article and have a long heart to heart with him about it. I will support him in whatever he chooses to do but this just gives a us a starting point to articulate to him what I have had difficulty explaining before to family and friends. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

    • Thank you for this comment. This feedback is exactly what we had in mind when we started this website and began this adventure.

      It’s a challenging and rewarding career choice, but certainly comes with risks and sacrifices like you mentioned.

      If your son is considering a career in law enforcement, you clearly raised a great kid. No matter what he ultimately chooses to pursue, we wish him all the best.

      Best of luck, be safe, and thank you for your service.

      -The Officer Next Door

    • I would have been 3rd generation law enforcement. Passed all tests. The day I had to sign my contract my Dad, a 30 year veteran Homicide Detective, asked me if I thought I would be able to shoot someone if necessary. Not someone invading my home. Not someone physically in my space but because it was my job to serve and protect others. I couldn’t clearly answer with a yes so I never signed that dotted line. That was a long time ago. I still wonder what kind of person I would have become if I would have gone forward with it. I have to say there isn’t a day that I regret NOT becoming apart of the law enforcement team. I have a great respect and admiration for all those that are. It is a calling for the fearless and the stouthearted. Thank you for your service Richard Lee and I pray for your son’s future in whatever he decides to do.

  13. Chris – As I read this, I found tears running down my cheeks. I loved being on the street. Having that rare moment when I made a positive difference is someone’s life – whether big or little – was the reward that kept me going through the tough times. I wish with all my heart that I could be back on the street today. I want to be part of it. I want to help the young guys who fighting a battle that (at times) seems unwinnable. WE will win. I will support them with CopBlue – just like you are doing here. May God bless you, brother.

  14. I saw the header and thought I might give it a look over. I couldn’t help it. As I went down the list I kept thinking been there and done that. Pretty much the entire list was experienced through my career in Blue. In my time, counseling wasn’t a “thing”. If you went to “see someone” you were looked upon as a weakling and someone to avoid or hoped never to be depended upon for a back up. You, as they say in the Military (another of my careers), sucked it up and drove on. The second guessing of decisions, the hassle of dealing with the administration, the constant having to reset the tactical feeling as you went from call to call to try and be sharp at all times . They all take a toll. I saw a 5 year ritual of burn out and regeneration to get back and hit it again. Been gone now for over 24 years. Still miss the folks I worked with. Miss the feeling that I was the best person to respond to that particular call with my Brothers and Sisters. Hard as hell to let go the response that you SHOULD be going to the call instead, feeling like you are letting someone down by not going any more. I hung up the uniform and parked the Motor so many years ago, but like my Brothers and Sisters in the Military, I will never be released from the oath of office or the badge. It never expires until I do.

    Keep writing, you have a gift. Thanks.

  15. How do you let go of all the steam? I understand the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings, however I don’t understand how you can put some balance and humanity to the whole picture. I guess we all find a way and get along for the next day. I appreciate and love all the police officers who have to endure this on a daily basis. Thanks for all you do.

  16. When people hear I was a Submarine Sailor for 9 years and tell me that’s nuts, only crazy people do that I smile and say “Ya, if that wasn’t crazy enough I was a cop for 25 years after that”. Like everyone of my brothers and sisters; I, my wife and my children lived that “Not normal life”, and although I stepped aside after only 25 years, the issues addressed in this perfect presentation by “The Officer Next Door” still exist, still haunt me only 3 years, 7 months and 29 days removed… they never go away.

    And it has already been addressed, there is in my mind no more rewarding way to spend a life than to be a Warrior in the service of others. So yes, we pay a price, we give a piece of ourselves that we never get back but I for one would not trade my LE career, or my my Naval service for anything in the world.

  17. Well written, one comment that I would like to add. After seeing the ugly event(s) not only do you have a memory of that response you now have to recall that event in a report of everything you saw, heard and acted on and said. Each question you asked every answer you heard and every person that you saw at the since the moment you arrived on the scene to the moment you ended the event(back in service). Then you will end up talking to the detective or ADA about the incident, then again giving your testimony in court answers questions from the ADA and defense attorneys about the incident until your blue in the face reliving that ugliness all over again to the point that you feel like vomiting. It’s the duty and responsible of every Law I enforcement officer does that he/she takes on every shift they work. It’s a tuff job, but we do it because we took on that responsibility freely.

  18. It is difficult to summon the complex thoughts and thirty odd years of feelings (for me) about our profession, but this article really hits home. Thank you to the person who wrote these thoughtful words. I hope many people read it and give pause to remember any police officer you may know. Mine was my grandfather. I hope my sons is me. He asked me why so many police officers are being shot. I told him the reasons are too many to explain. I told him to have self respect and respect others and that would be a good start for less officers getting shot.

  19. As the wife of an officer for over 25 years, thank you for your attempt to help people realize what LEOs are subject to day in and day out. Many spouses don’t understand this. Many brothers, sisters, moms and dads don’t understand this. If someone you love is an officer, don’t ask why. Don’t get upset that they don’t want to go out and socialize, or do want to go out and socialize or simply want to be alone. Don’t judge them for playing a video game for 6 hours straight or working on their car through dinner. Don’t get annoyed when they want to make love to you every day/night. Accept them. In whatever fashion they present to you, appreciate them and always be there. Love them. Be their rock, their constant source of good that counter balances all the evil that surrounds them every single day. Help them, don’t burden them even more. Someone’s husband or son or father, wife, daughter or mother in blue didn’t come home today. It could have been mine…. or yours.

    • That is so true Brenda, they married to an officer and thinking this is a 9 to 5 job. That is why police officer’s marriages’ don’t last long. It takes a special man to wear a badge and a special women to except the badge and the life that come with it. You are that type of special people. God Bless you.

  20. Thank you for writing this article and putting into words so many of my experiences as a cop with the SFPD for 31yrs. Although I have been retired for 12yrs this article brought me right back to my years on the force. Brought tears to my eyes. Greatest job ever. Take care and be safe to all my sisters and brothers in blue.

  21. What is left to say? Chris, once again an excellent job, shedding light on being an officer. Your comment on Dolly’s post brought it a little closer to home for me, “Glad you made it out.” I am soooooo glad you made it out. The force is missing a great officer but I think you will serve all officers more by what you are writing now. Your blog is compelling to read and I hope it starts some much needed conversations in and out of the squad room. I can’t thank all civil service personnel enough for what they do for the ungrateful public on a daily basis.

  22. Great article! It described my thirty years as a Chicago copper better than I could have. I was blessed with an internal switch that always clicked on when it was needed most and clicked off again when I could move on to the next job. Retired 7 years now, I still get visits from my ghosts but they don’t frighten me anymore. Thank you for speaking for us.

  23. Great article thank you for opening the door into a career where service to others before ones self is the expectation. To all law enforcement, you can not complete a career in this profession without being impacted by the trauma we see, be courageous and ask for help when you need it and reach out to someone who has lived your experience.

  24. As a mother of a Police Officer, I can only say that I cried while reading this amazing article. All the “normals” that I know my son deals with everyday, are the same ones that I pray will not become “abnormal” for him. Police Officers are challenged everyday both physically and emotionally. But the media has scrutinized the very essence of this position and all the respect that goes along with it. I pray for my son’s safety everyday and of his return to his family each day. It takes a very special person to put their lives on the line with no questions asked.

    • It’s funny you should mention the respect for the job, that’s the topic of the article I am currently writing! Thank you for raising a hero. Your love and support is all he needs to know he’s doing the right thing. Hopefully, tides will turn and the profession will be respected like it once was, that’s my goal at least.

  25. I would add to your “not normal” list, that of laying an American flag upon the body of your friend at the coroner’s office, who had been slain by someone who did not want to go to jail. That “not normal” is usually only shared with frontline combat troops, which in some cities the police are de facto on an almost daily basis. Well done article, thanks so much for putting to words what so many of us go through.

  26. I left the job 24 years ago after 21 years of service. One of the reasons was as an accident investigator seeing death, serious injury and major damage was not bothering me. I wonder now if that was a defensive mechanism or PTSD.

    Coming from a family of officers, I’m sad but grateful to say we are glad that none of our children chose to follow in our footsteps.

  27. I respect all officers. The job you do every day is amazing. So thank you for all the work you do. I joined the Citizens Police Academy in Lexington Kentucky about 9 years ago to get to know the men and women police officers better. It was a real eye opener. I got to know a lot of officers, and they are just like us. I really had a blast, that I became a lifetime member. Back the Blue.

  28. Thank you for writing this. As a Police Mom, I am always amazed at the police officers’ dedication and how the public doesn’t understand what they go through daily. I pray continually for my son and for all policeman. They are truly heroes.

  29. I write police urban fantasy novels. My next series is about hospital cops. If you’d ever like to be interviewed, please let me know. Thank you

  30. What a well written article. I have said over and over again, I don’t know how you do it (police officers). All I can say is God bless all of you that serve and protect.

  31. What a great article. Everything your said is so true. I am a 31 year law enforcement veteran. I still have days that I go home and can’t talk about the things I have seen. Thank you.

  32. This is a brilliant blog. As a cop with almost 30 yrs service, I found myself nodding at every stage. You have captured the challenges and impacts perfectly. It is so important that our colleagues talk openly about their experiences and their struggles.

    Well done and thank you for sharing

  33. “Being a police officer is recognizing that you will see the worst side of humanity that society has to offer and you accept that as your normal.” This to me is an important part of this post, part of the us versus them mentality that takes hold in police forces, when in reality most people want to support and trust the police.

  34. Police officers are not indestructible. They are human beings. Their uniform does not protect them from distress, pain, and emotion . They are not impervious to life. They have to deal with it daily. Thank You is not enough.

  35. As a mother of an officer
    This article was very informative and helpful.
    I shared with others so that they would understand what my son and all first responders experience.
    With total gratitude.

  36. Such true and unspoken words. Things we as citizens walking the streets everyday don’t think about.
    Things we fail to understand until we walk a day in their shoes. Are you brave enough?!

    They are Heroes! They are Angels among us!

    Back the Blue!
    Thank a Hero!

  37. All this is such hard truth to grasp. And I hate that it is truth. But what I hate even more-is that our officers see this so much, that they forget that is not all there is. That most of the people out here are good people-albeit a variety of degrees of that. I am sure it is hard to remind yourselves of that when the nature of the job fills your day with bad people and bad experiences.
    Protect. And Serve. That’s what you do. And on behalf of myself and all these other good folks out here..thank you. Thank you for doing that, especially on those hardest of days. But please remember and do this. For yourself, your family. Protect you. Serve you.
    Protect yourself physically from any harm. Protect your heart against hardening so that you won’t lose the personhood that makes you, you. Protect your mind against losing sight of the good reasons that you chose this job in the first place. And if ever you are reaching the place where these things cannot be, Protect you and all you love, by stepping away until if and when you can live them well again. Why? Because you are worth it. You deserve to be alive. You deserve to be healthy. You deserve to be happy. You serve our community, but you are not supposed to be our sacrificial lamb. Thank you for the job that you do. But please, please take care of you too. ❤ (I originally left this comment on my son-in-law’s page. But really it is intended for all LEO’s, so I am re-posting it here. )

  38. It’s a tough job and while it’s not normal, it’s not for everyone. Too many people signing up for things they aren’t ready for. Too much stress makes a person unreliable if they can’t handle the pressure. The end result is public distrust and a lack of empathy. Departments need better screening methods to filter those who can and those who can’t.

  39. Well stated. I did my 25 and retired 19 years ago. I still have those things that lurk in the night. Stay safe, my brothers and sisters. God Bless you all.

  40. Truer words have never been written! Praying this encourages those who need it to get help and not be ashamed. And open the eyes of those who don’t understand us or what we do. Took me almost losing my family to reach out for help! I recently discovered The Officer Next Door and it’s now a huge part of my life and daily routine. Proud to say I’ve gone from weekly therapy sessions to 1 a month, took 2 years and lots of pain, tears and learning to let go. Very well written, thank you!!!!

    “PTSD is not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person”.

    • Hey brother, reading your words is like a breath of fresh air. Please share your experience with others who are afraid to speak up or speak out. There are many of our brothers who are clinging to the edge. This site (The Officer Next Door) and mine (CopBlue.com) have been trying to get the word out; trying to help and trying to be there for those in need. You will never be alone.

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