Tuesday, December 29, 2009

how becoming a cop has changed HF

I'm back from the Christmastime festivities. The Little Tikes Police car that HF so painstakingly put together on Christmas Eve was a mega hit with not only the baby, but with the other two. Unfortunately I didn't realize that one of our dear children had put a fingerprint on our lens until after I took all the Christmas pictures, so they all have a foggy sort of look to them. I have a lot of blog reading I've missed out on, and I discovered that when someone emails me or leaves a comment that it goes directly to my spam folder. It's weird. So sorry to everyone that I have not responded to. I haven't been ignoring you, but I will do my best to reply in the coming week. And Handcuffed Heart, I will be emailing you tomorrow about the kid stuff like I ought to have long ago.

Now for the hot topic: I noticed a recent comment on an old post. Here's an excerpt:
"my boyfriend is applying to the local police academies. i knew he was meant for this job before he did and he's so passionate about it he's already started training himself so hell be ready lol. im a nurse so we are both used to my weird hours (usually 11p-7a) and being very passionate about my work (not to mention sharing the grossest and saddest details of my job) do you have ne advice for us when it comes to the transition he will undertake and how it will effect our relationship? i know people have said that some people change as they become cops and i want to know what kind of change i might see."
I know I've touched on this in previous posts, mostly in a humorous fashion, but I've been paying attention to the changes I've seen in HF since the academy days. I've never been sure of how to word it other than when I'm making light of the changes, but in all seriousness, this is my attempt at addressing the not-so-good changes that have occurred in my LEO. There have been, and still are, times where I'm not sure if this is a change I'm seeing in HF or if it's a fluke, but I know HF has changed. Remember, HF reads my blog, so let me preface this with a declaration of how much I adore HF and think so highly of him. He is, in my opinion a man with few faults and he makes me very happy. Here is some of what I included in an email to this reader above:

Grumpiness: During the academy, I noticed that HF started to be grumpy quite a bit. This is really uncharacteristic for him. At first I didn't say anything because I thought it was just some random behavior because of stress in the academy, lack of sleep and adrenaline dumps, or maybe difficult subject matter he was learning about. Probably some of everything. I started calling him on it because I realized that it was becoming everyday ordinary behavior. He still has occasional grumpiness that makes me think it's me or something I've done, but he works hard to fix it and deal with stress appropriately. That brings up. . .

Communication: Every relationship experiences its ups and downs with communication no matter how well you know each other or get along. Since HF has become a cop, I have noticed the way he communicates with me has changed. He tends to use the communication techniques learned in training on me and the kids sometimes. I don't like it. Sometimes he does it playfully, but sometimes it's to get the answers he is looking for immediately. I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but sometimes I get the feeling I'm being interviewed much like someone off the streets he deals with. I guess communication kind of goes along with impatience. He is direct and to the point much more than ever before and wants me and the kids and anyone else he deals with off duty to be the same and not "jerk him around". It probably doesn't help that I roll my eyes at his attempts to communicate this way. He usually sees what he's doing and stops and/or sees that it is ineffective with his family. 

Impatience: Much more impatience with me and the kids! When we talked about this with each other, he realized that he was indeed being impatient and the way he described it was like he was used to people doing what he said when he said it (complying) and you can't expect small children to really comply, you know? At least not the first time you ask. And you can't expect your wife to comply either, can you? :) I try to make life as easy for him as possible like he does for me, but to see him go from laid back without a care in the world to Mister "hurry up and do what I say and be direct" is kind of startling. It has its usefulness at times, but I see that he has a load on his shoulders to figure out how to balance his personal and family life with his "other" life.

Intense and Paranoid: We can't go anywhere without HF seeing trouble. He has to park a certain way, he has to look over his shoulder, look for escape routes, sit in a certain spot at a restaurant or at church, stand guard like a body guard when I'm getting into the car or helping the kids into their seats. The gun goes everywhere. It's like a big production when he gets dressed. The badge, the 2 wallets, the gun, the right clothes to conceal gun, etc. It drives me crazy. The fact that he has to do this is not the issue, but when I just want to go out and enjoy his company and he's constantly watching his back, sometimes it's like, "hello? Are you listening to me?". I've heard that this is normal rookie cop behavior and that he'll settle down a bit with time, but sometimes I just want him to myself and I don't want him to have to worry about anything else. Knowing HF, he'll never be complacent and will always be on edge, but it's a little tense sometimes!

Language: This isn't in regard so much to cop terms and lingo, but he never used to swear or tell crude jokes or stories, but he will now! He does a lot of editing for me because I'm a sensie, but still, it's one of those things that have changed.

Most of these things I've mentioned are things he doesn't even realize he's doing until it's brought to his attention. And like I said, he works hard to fix things that could become bad habits. I would say that it is a lot more hard work that is being put into our relationship and family since he has become a cop.

Becoming a cop changes you. It may not be drastic, it may not be in the same way as it is for others, but I would love to hear from any readers. In what ways have you or your cop changed? I'm looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know it would be greatly appreciated to those seeking answers, myself included. In another post I would like to address ways you cope and even thrive despite all of the changes.


Tara said...

i have to say an absolute ditto to all of the above and D isnt even out of academy (until next week :)) The paranoia/watchfulness was always there as D grew up in Crime stricken South Africa, but talk about amplified... eg driving to church- "what the heck is that guy doing over there(random guy miles away next to a closed office building). took me a couple minutes just to spot the guy when he was pointing at him. And the interview techniques slipping into everyday communication... I guess that one is payback coz he put up with me as a trainee social worker doing all my counselling and psyc units.

Leah said...

CC leaves for academy in 11 days! Yay! But, even without going through all of that, we've had a few conversations about his change in attitude. As a police officer, they are trained to look out for people doing something wrong. So, at home, CC will pick out everything that someone is doing wrong, critique everything in a negative way. When I talk to him about it, he truly doesn't realize it. So, we're working on being more positive so that his negativity doesn't consume him all of the time! :)

Erin said...

Language is the main thing I've noticed. Noah is pretty good about separating work attitude from home attitude, but he's constantly spotting illegal activities and he's definitely more grumpy/abrasive at times.

Jillian said...

DH will not sit with his back to a door after the Academy. People talking about smoking pot is no longer juvenile... it's now awkward and makes DH highly uncomfortable. DH is now even more obsessed with firearms and spent an obscene amount on one that is police-certified or something. DH will not let me walk our dogs without a can of Pepper spray and harps the entire walk about how much better things would be if he had a concealed carry permit. Finally, DH is dying to be hired... anywhere. I gave recently gave DH a list of 10 states that I would move to and we're praying that some positions open up soon. All the Academy guys are just itching to get hired to a department.

Paula said...

I am the mom of a cop of 10 years and I saw my son in everyone of your comments. If fact I think much of that behavior is what broke up his marriage. His ex couldn't stand when he felt the need to carry the gun everywhere he went. Now he is hooked up with a lady cop and they have a lot in common. I think that most of the behavior is just part of being a cop and some of it was there before but being a cop brings it out in them. Good luck to all of you as you struggle with your men!!!

Because of Love said...

Gumpiness: YES! There are many times that I look at him and want to shout "What is wrong with you?!"

Communication: Sorta... our type of communication hasn't really changed. Ours is more that I feel like he has a completly different life than I do sometimes. He will go from telling me nothing to overloading me with information of things "he forgot to tell me".

Impatience: YES! Sometimes he gets so frustrated with Alyse and it makes me so upset! This is the one area that I do yell at him about. I am pretty relaxed and don't nag him too much, but when he starts to get all ugly I remind him that he can't come in and be all demanding when he isn't even here most of the time.

Intense and Paranoid: Um..not really. I mean the gun does go with us everywhere. He does have 2 wallets and sits in particular places, but Josh is really good about being "off the clock". He does have his moments, but it isn't bad at all.

Language: His sense of humor has changed, but he knows that if he starts swearing or being crude that I will hurt him. (I've had to put my foot down in the past with he playing football and basketball and stuff, so he knows where I stand on that subject.)

Slamdunk said...

Good advice.

I think the grumpiness part is noticable, but at least it is applied evenly to everyone and usually not targeted.

Glad you had a nice holiday.

KD said...

I have almost no words to comment on your post. I could have written it word for word. Just thinking about it all makes me sad and exhausted. I might have more to say in the future.

And THANKS for remembering you're gonna email me! :) Take your time, I'm just glad you haven't forgotten. Notice I haven't posted on my blog in ages.... the holiday vacation has taken precedent.

hugs to you, Mrs. Fuzz! And Merry Christmas!

OrdinaryLife said...

I read your post & then made my husband read it! You said the exact things I have been telling him lately! He is grumpy (a lot....there are some intense politics going around the office right now, and that always makes for a grumpy cop!). He is impatient with our daughter. I remind him that she is only 18 months and can't really "snap to" yet. He has to sit facing the door/traffic/suspicious looking guy. He reminds me constantly that he is a trained observer! And the language....oh the language! He will try to filter it, but it's like stopping a dam with a wad of gum.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to all.. I just sent my Officer a text askihg him to comment on here, for all the wives. I think he could give a lot of insight in why the husbands do what they do. And how you all can help them.

One thing he may not mention... is the being out in public.. and what I learned.. We call it 'on point' I noticed it immediatly when we were dating. to anyone else its not noticable.. but I can tell he is not listening to me all of a sudden. I look at him and he is starring at some object intently. He explained he is watching out of the corner of his eye a person that is making him nervous.. or he suspects may know him. So I asked what my roll was and he told me what he would like me to do.

When he goes 'on point' I stop talking remember where we left off and sit there with him. I don't cause a scene. We just keep doing what we're doing and lay low, waiting for the 'on point' reason to end. If something was to go down, I am to back away immediatley call 911 and tell them everything I have seen and location of where we are.

We have been tested.. and thank you God we passed..

Ask your husbands questions on what you can do to be an officer's wife. It will keep him safe. And let him calm down a bit. I know I posted some more tips on our own blog..

The whole sitting in a specific chair.. Used to urk me.. He always wanted the chair I was going to sit in. Since I asked.. I know what he's looking for and He'll order and I'll go off hunting for a table. Selecting one that has the best view of the people and doors. I them give him the best seat for his safety and mine.

Carrying his gun.. Oh heck yes!!! Always please.. He sends people to jail everyday!! They know him faster then he can spot them. Trust me.. Officers have had to use them while off duty. Thank God they had them. And yes.. Even in church. All officers should carry their weapons in church.. trust me!

I hope he posts more.. I am married to the most wonderful Husband and Officer in the world! I want him to share his wisdom so you all can help your men!


Stella said...

You hit the nail on the head with this post Mrs. Fuzz! I agree with you posts and many of the comments left by others. My father was a Lt. police officer, my brother is a Detective and my husband is also a cop. They always say it takes someone special to be a cop, but I tend to believe, it takes someone special to be a cop's wive. The average woman does not understand what we go through. It's good to find a connection with someone who can relate to these same experiences. I can take everything, except the impatience right now. Kids are going to be kids. We have a very strong willed 5 year old boy. Actually, he is a spitting image of his father. My DH is very hard on him, but it's because he deals with so many kids who have issues. Anyway, it's nice to know we're all in this together! Great post!

mrs. fuzz said...

Tara- Yay for being able to ditto everything. :) And yay for D being out of the academy in a few days! Congrats!

Leah- Yay for getting to the academy days! So how much longer does this make it?

Erin- Glad to know I'm not the only one with a grumps on my hands at times. . .

Wifey- Good luck with the hiring thing! At HF's graduation there was only a few hired on full time, some were hired on as reserves, the rest looking. It's hard times everywhere it seems. Here's to hoping something comes up for you guys.

Paula- thank you for your comment! I love seeing your perspective as a mom of a cop.

b/c of Love- I love that we spouses can commiserate together.

Slamdunks- Hope you all had a nice holiday yourselves!

KD- it is a bit sad, isn't it. . . but at least we have each other!

OLife- the office politics blow my mind! Once again, I'm so glad we can all relate!

Dispatcher- Love your input. Thanks! I think I remember reading about the on point thing in On Combat. I would love to hear your officer's insight.

Stella- Thanks! It sounds like you knew what you were getting into marrying a cop. :) I have a brother that's a cop in CA, but that's it. You are right about other friends not understanding.

Leah said...

CC will be in academy for 5 months. Luckily, where we are, it's common for the agency to pay for the academy. He's already got a job, so that's good to know. I didn't realize that so many people go through academy without having a job on the other end. Academy will be different, as it is 4 hours away from where we live, so he won't be home during the week. But, the positive is that he won't have as many distractions while he's there! :)

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Fuzz.... My Officer posted yesterday On this thread.. Here's a copy that he sent me (it appears it was too long.. so ill resend in 2 parts:

Part 1
I adore my Dispatcher, and the relationship that we have. We always work as a team. But referring to your points one at a time, I will hope to shed what little insight I might be able to assist with.
Grumpiness: Much of the grumpiness can be attributed to shift work and lack of sleep. Even day shift officers. Believe me, in most cases, it is nothing you or the children have done directly. Most officers need several things from their families. First, they need a little time when returning home to downshift and decompress. As their careers go, some become quite adept, and can do it merely by putting the uniform on or off. Next, you need to encourage your officer to maintain his health through proper exercise, nutrition (we tend to eat junk out there), sleep, spirituality, and maintain friends and interests outside of law enforcement. What we do everyday is tear ourselves up by filing our day and our time with societies problems, and whats more, we try to solve them. Its all negative, and we are immersed into this world daily. In this aspect, we are actually the ones that need to be cared for by our families. You have the power to care for us, and lift us up. Conversely, you also have the power to rip us down faster. Not that I believe anyone intentionally does it, but it happens.

Officers tend to go through three distinct phases in their careers. We start at the "I'm going to save the world" phase. In this phase we tend to be optimistic and righteous, if not a little condescending and hyper vigilant. When we hit phase 2, this is the make it or break it phase. In this phase, we realize we cannot save the world and society as we know it (even though our view of society is warped because we only see the gutters) is depraved. We go though a lot of changes in this phase, which usually is between 2 - 7 years into the job. Its a phase of self realization. Many get depressed. Some become self destructive. Many divorces occur in this phase. It is usually a very dark time in the officer's lives and the time they need not only their family, but quite possibly a little therapy from a good counselor or pastor well versed in law enforcement issues. Most officers will not even let you know it is happening, and will put up false fronts. It lasts until either the officer comes to terms with the idea of that while they cannot save the world, they can positively influence everything in their world they can touch, or they quit, get fired, or remain in phase 2 the rest of their lives. Most officers work through phase 2, but all are changed.

Anonymous said...

Part 2: (of now 3.. so sorry)

Communication: We do it quick. And as Sgt Friday says, "Just the facts". A lot of us get so bogged down in the mindset of getting all the information as quickly as we can and relaying only the details we feel are pertinent, that we miss the spice of life. Our families. You are the wonderful people who we want to fill our lives with. My wife can sense when I have had a hard day, and she knows exactly what to do and say to bring a smile back to my face almost instantly. I have been on the streets for 18 years. She is AWESOME. I know that I fail to communicate with her at times still. She usually reminds me, but other times I think she holds back, if she feels it is not an important topic or it can wait for later. I ALWAYS feel horrible when I realize I haven't been communicating in a manner in which she needs. She is quick to forgive, and always eager to hear what I have to say. I think this is a man trait,and not necessarily a cop thing. God knows I am working on it to this day.

Impatience. We unfortunately use a lot of our patience up with the idiots we deal with at work, and often times unfortunately we come home with raw, bared nerves. All of the suggestions in grumpiness will help with this. We do not want to hurt you or the kids, and beat ourselves up real good, once we realize what we have done to you. I find it best if my wife talks to me about this when we are both at our peak, and then we can both be constructive.

Intense paranoia: I NEVER leave the house without my gun. And my 2 wallets, and my gun concealing clothing. I usually have my gun nearby when I am home. My family knows this and accepts this. I have worked in both small towns and, as now, large cities. I have had people I have arrested come to my home when I was off duty looking for a fight. And that was in a small town. I have also run into people I have arrested many times in the large city I work in. You have to remember most officers will arrest hundreds or thousands of people over the course of their career. Most criminals will only be arrested a handful of times, and I guarantee they remember the cop who did it, while the arrest may not be memorable for the officer. We live in the 36th largest city in the nation. All of us that live here enjoy good food and movies and shopping. Don't ever think because I live on the good side of town, the bad side doesn't want to be on my side or have what
I have. My wife and I have talked at length about what she and the kids are to do in an off duty encounter. And they know I will not take action other than calling in something and being a good witness unless it gets physical and someone could be hurt. We had to enact our plans once while we were at our coffee shop with a physical disturbance in the parking lot with people who supposedly had guns and were getting into it. And we were on the "good" side of town. I too sit where I can plan my attack or escape. I too run what if scenarios in my head all the time. I too think of three ways to kill most people who walk by me... just kidding, but I have my contingency plans, and I am a firm believer that it is better to be judged by 12 of my peers, than carried by 6 of my family and friends, or worse, having to carry a family or friend with 5 others. I have been there too. And I have been to more than enough cop funerals.
Language: I work hard on this one, and go through seasons. My wife does not like foul language. And you would be surprised, but neither do I. I wrestle with it. The problem is that we are surrounded in a culture, and a criminal element that will say things that will cause a sailor to blush. We take it in all day, and sometimes, it does come out. We know you don't like it, and we ourselves do not like it. It just slips, usually with an emotion, be it anger, humor, or whatever. I feel horrible when I see the look on my princess's face.

Anonymous said...

Part 3: (bynow imthinking we should of done our own post instead of taking over urs..)

We officers live like no one else, so others can live like they do. I would strongly encourage more communication with the officer you love. Be careful not to attack, but approach it as someone who wants to heal them. I would also strongly suggest that you go as a couple to relationship building events, therapy, or be active with a group of healthy couples. We all need this. Humans are social creatures.
I got a little wordy here. Always willing to answer more specific questions. Hope I helped.

mrs. fuzz said...

Leah- Good luck being apart during the week for the next five months! I hope you blog about it. I am so interested in how the academy works in different cities and states. It was so sad to see so many cadets graduate without jobs. It's a lot of work and sacrifice and money to go through the academy on your own and then not have a job lined up. A lot of the guys HF graduated with are having to recertify every year to be eligible for a job.

Officer- thank you so much for your 3 part response. It's very helpful and I love getting the cop's perspective. I love reading your guys' blog and "Seeing" your adoration for one another.

copmom said...

I'm not able to read all the comments you've already received (short on time this morning), but I strongly recommend that you (and HF) read "Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement" by Kevin Gilmartin: http://www.emotionalsurvival.com/
I've been a LEO for 15 years, my dh is also a LEO. I attended Gilmartin's training last year and found it incredibly helpful.

Jessica said...

My boyfriend (soon to be fiance) just started the academy. He has wanted this for a long time and has never been more excited about it! I have found your blog, and of course, this post, just in time in seems and am unbelieveably motivated to be the best police support I can be for him! Thank you Mrs Fuzz!

mrs. fuzz said...

The Dispatcher and Her Officer:

Thank you for the 3 part comment. I found it very helpful.


Dee said...

I agree with all the info posted above. My husband is a LEO for 7 years now and I have seen all of the changes above and more. The only other item I would add is increase in cynicsm and negativity. It is a very hard one to deal with on a daily basis. I understand that it is the result of dealing with the dregs of society on a daily basis and the "mindset" of that type of people. However, it doesn't always make it easier to handle at home.

MrsMonicaLB said...

wow,those are all very good comments and right on.Its great to see that no one is perfect cause of course there is no such thing,and yes they ALL change in one way or the other,no way they can't with all that they deal with.
Counciling is great,and having friends who are not only LEO's I think is a must,that way they arent always thinking or talking about work.

Heidi said...

Mrs Fuzz - some more reading material, in case you're interested, on the whole awareness/being on edge/etc.


I'm on the tactical medical side of things, discovered your blog a while ago, and have enjoyed learning to see things from your perspective - thanks for the good writing!

Nathaniel said...

It's really an fantastic article and comments to know more details about the topic. Really becoming a cop's wife or daughter it's a pleasure. But not all the police officers are same as they will change after joining the post but some people who wants to become a police officer will also change their lifestyle thinking the future.

Anonymous said...

I see this is a 3 year old blog, but my boyfriend whom I have a child with has been a cop for 2 years. He has changed tremendously. He gets angry easily, he talks down to me, everything is my fault, he talks to me like he would someone he's arresting, he drinks a lot more, he's not compassionate anymore, he's withdrawn from me. He was never like this. I've become resentful towards him. I want so badly to save this relationship and our family. It's been going down hill the last 3 months.But he doesn't communicate well, so It's hard to talk to him about my feelings. He has admitted to me that he has become angry. I am so lost, tired and hurt. And don't know what to do. He's a good man, he's lost himself though, as I am losing myself being in this relationship. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

To agree with the last comment on here, I wish I would have seen this sooner. My boyfriend has been in the academy for the last 6 weeks, and I have already noticed a drastic change in him. He has become more impatient and angry, at first it started with being rude to me, but now he has started taking things out on his friends as well. At first I thought it was just him and the influence of the people around him at the academy, but after seeing this I guess this is considered slightly normal. I wish I could have him read this, but I know that he would probably get defensive about it. Ultimately I just want my caring and considerate boyfriend back, so any suggestions as to how we can get that communication back would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

My husband graduates the academy in 5 weeks and for some reason it's just now hitting me that I'm married to a cop. My mind is constantly wondering and I'm always worried, and I'm not a worrywort but I can't help it. I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that he's a cop now. I'm having trouble adjusting and I'm really worried once he gets out it will get worse for me. I want so bad to be supportive of him and I don't tell him the worries I'm having. I want him to be stress free as much as possible during this time but I could use some help from other wives that may have been through this or are going through this. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Hi. I don't know if anyone is still reading this or if it counts because it's my boyfriend in the DOC academy but if anyone still is reading, do you have any advice for me not being able to speak to my man while he's away? It's only been a day and a half and I'm already tearing my hair out. We've been together for a little over 5 years and most of our relationship has been based on technology. We only see each other once a week. I don't know when I'll talk to him again and I'm having a really hard tI'm coping with everything. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi, I came across this page while googling how the job can change people. I had been with my boyfriend for 2 years when he decided to go to the police academy. At first he really didn't want to go and kept having to convince himself how great it would be. Everything between us had been perfect and we planned on spending the rest of our lives together. Things got a little difficult while he was in the academy because he only had 2 days to do things and trying to see each other was tough, but we still managed to do so. He graduated at the end of March and everything was still really good between us. A couple months went by and he went from working 7:30-4:30 to now working 4 pm-1 am and being able to work as much overtime as he wishes and he works whatever he can. I noticed he started to become more distant right at the start of his schedule change but i tried not to get too upset. Just a few weeks ago he broke down in tears on the phone with me saying he wasn't sure he saw us going anywhere anymore but then said he needed me to just give him some time to figure himself out and that he was in a weird place. This all came as a shock to me because we talked about marriage and the future together and then all of a sudden out of nowhere this happened. I can't help but think that the job got to him and I'm very worried. I love him so much and can't picture my life without anyone else but I'm scared he let this job change him. I've been giving him his space and haven't contacted him in 2 weeks and I do know that when he gets into these kinds of moods he shuts down and just keeps to himself. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!