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