Alderman Bob Donovan: From a Cop’s Dad

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From a Cop’s Dad by former Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan

I can’t remember a time when my daughter Eileen didn’t want to become a cop. As a child, come Halloween, while the other kids would be wearing the latest popular costumes, Eileen would insist on dressing up as a police officer and of course, Kathy would be stuck trying to piece together a uniform. She idolized my older brother who was a Captain with the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department. At family gatherings while other kids were out playing, Eileen would be huddled around the adults as we would share colorful stories of my grandfather (her great-grandfather) who was a Milwaukee Police Officer for 43 years.

As the years went on, Kathy and I thought her career choice might indeed change as is often the case with kids. For a time, she was discussing becoming an attorney, and she certainly had the grades. She even worked part-time at a law firm. But when the time came, she said “Dad, I’m applying to become a Milwaukee cop”. I guess none of us were surprised.

Her first go-around, she had difficulty during the physical test getting over the wall. As a result, she failed. I was proud of the fact that she didn’t let that setback define her. She worked hard, tried again, and that time she passed. She cried the day she received her acceptance letter to the police academy and she cried again when my brother pinned her badge on her for the first time. I was there on both occasions and I cried too.

She was quickly assigned to some of Milwaukee’s toughest neighborhoods. I would cringe when I would hear some of the horror stories of the job. Most people are not aware of what police officers go through on a daily basis. You see, Milwaukee is nothing like the City my grandfather patrolled all those many years ago.

Police officers respond to the worst moments in people’s lives Day in and day out, one call after another. The see and deal with far more tragedy in a single day than most of us would experience in a lifetime. They are expected to make split-second decisions involving life and death and be right 100% of the time, day in and day out. They pick up the pieces of a broken society.

In addition to all of that, police officers routinely perform acts of kindness and charity and yet, don’t publicize it. Most are known but to God. And yet for all their efforts, they are all too often criticized, ridiculed, yelled at, shot at, spat upon and hated. The harshest critics are often times the individuals who wouldn’t have the guts or the courage to do that job, and certainly wouldn’t even qualify.

As a parent of a cop, you worry about all those things. You try to ignore the news stories about the mounting number of cops killed or injured in the line of duty. You learn to forget the articles you’ve read about how police officers lead the nation in divorce and suicide. As a family, you work around the cancelled off days and crazy hours and help the best you can. Did I mention you do a lot of praying?

Now we find ourselves in this current crisis and all that this crisis entails. This effort appears to have evolved into a systemic vilification of all police. Eileen told Kathy the other day something I will never forget. She said “Mom, I have no idea what I ever did to be hated so much.”

All I can say is this – I’m so proud of my daughter and I’m equally proud of the brave men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department and I thank God for the work they do. I ask the good Lord to protect them and keep them safe. My advice to the rest of Milwaukee is to do the same. ��