Police Officer Jason Moszer died Thursday, February 11, 2016 after being shot while on duty. He started with the Fargo, North Dakota (ND) Police Department in November 2009, where he protected, served, and gave the ultimate sacrifice. His death is the first of a Fargo officer in more than 130 years. Sadly, he is one of 10 officers killed in the line of duty in the United States in the first month and a half of 2016.
Our sympathy and condolences to his family and fellow officers.
Jason’s family requests that donations in his memory be directed to Lifesource, 2225 West River Road North, Minneapolis, MN 55411.
At times like this our hearts, thoughts and prayers rightfully go out to all affected. But do you ever stop to think of police officer spouses and families on a daily basis? Do you wonder what their thoughts and fears are? Do you consider how they cope with the ever-changing culture of public servants? Maybe you should.
Two police wives-both married 30+ years and from the adjoining states of North and South Dakota-share their stories. Much gratitude to them, their officer spouses, and their respective families for decades of service and sacrifice.
To protect their identity and for their safety, they are referred to as Wife A and B.
Feel free to leave your words of appreciation and comments below.
I’ve been married to a law enforcement officer for 33 years. In 1982 he joined the Air Force and began his career as part of the Security Police. During his 10 years of service, he held multiple positions in different locales from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Turkey, where he secured a small base in Ankara. I remained stateside pregnant with our first child. During his 15 months in Turkey our first son was born and it literally took 6 months for him to meet his son through photographs-cell phones, video conferencing and texting didn’t exist then.
August of 1985 we moved to Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), South Dakota. He had many changes at Ellsworth, as did our family. Our daughter was born. He was selected to work a special drug task force with OSI (Office of Special Investigation). Of course he was thrilled and I was apprehensive. Our son was 3 years old and our daughter was an infant. Much of the drug task force was undercover work so his appearance had to change-full beard, long hair. He certainly didn’t look military anymore. I think he was enjoying the uncivil look after spending several years in the Air Force. This was dangerous work and took him to the underworld of drug dealings on the Indian Reservations as well as motorcycle gangs. The hours were terrible. As you can imagine, it was not an 8-5 job. He continued this work for about 2 years until our family was threatened and he decided it was time to move on. Our next assignment took us to Hawaii. He spent about a year at Wheeler AFB as a Sergeant in charge of patrol units and then spent another year on Hickam AFB in the Investigation Unit, which would be similar to a detective in the civilian police departments. We left the Air Force in 1992 since our son passed away in 1991 and we made the decision to move closer to family.
Joined City Force
He started with a metropolitan police department in 1994, the same year our second son was born. Of course, being the new guy meant lousy hours and days off but by now we were used to it. Being a police officer means you sometimes give up family time and miss events like school concerts, sports, church with family, and birthdays and holidays. I’d done it for 10 years and learned to adjust to being alone, getting the kids to school/daycare, helping them with the homework, or maybe just trying to keep them quiet since dad was asleep during the day because he worked at night.
He has worked mostly patrol with a 5 year stint as a traffic investigator where he investigated hit and run accidents, serious and fatal crashes. This again meant call outs in the middle of the night and he itched to return to patrol. He’s been doing that ever since.
Changing Police Culture
Over the years there have been changes to police departments and to the public’s perception of them. New recruits are taught to be softer and kinder, which is a much different attitude from when my husband became a police officer. I remember when people had a healthy fear of the police, but they also respected the police. Sadly, I do not see that anymore. I also feel that getting a little too close or personal could put the officer at more risk. As a spouse, it makes me angry when I see people chant “death to the police” or spit on them, or when they are criticized for their actions. The general hatred for police is very disturbing and honestly, at times, keeps me awake at night. Police officers should be able to protect themselves without question. Now we have police officers being killed for hesitating and others being charged with murder. This makes no sense to me.
Worrying & Understanding
I learned early on that I couldn’t sit and worry while he was at work. We talk about the dangers of the job together as a family and we all understand the reality that something bad could happen. He has been hurt on the job, bit by humans (which included HIV testing) and dogs and while in the process of arresting a kid high on drugs almost lost his thumb in the ratchet of his handcuff. He was hit while in his police car by a drunk driver and now has a permanent back injury. Of course, there are many more bumps and bruises from fights and arrests. It upsets me even when I think of how some of the general public feels about our officers. They risk their life to protect us and this is how we treat them.
Obviously, in this changing world, his safety is always on my mind. The sheer thought that police are targeted just because they are police officers makes me angry and hurt. Offenders and protesters have no idea what these officers go through each day and what they see. They have witnessed violence at the level some of us can’t even imagine- murders, rapes, suicides, mentally ill, and domestic abuse. They also might sit with any lonely, elderly person just to visit. The list is too long.
Overtime, I believe he’s become numb to the things he’s witnessed. Very little bothers him anymore. I believe if he became emotionally attached, the job would’ve eaten him up. Coping with the stress of the job becomes a family affair. He needs to be able to come home and talk about his days and, as a wife, I need to listen, even if it is unpleasant. Sharing his job with family helps all of us cope.
As the kids grew through different stages of their life, their attitude toward their dad’s job somewhat changed. In grade school they thought having a police officer as their dad was cool. In junior high and high school they were more appalled. He would always tell the kids, “I always know what you are doing.” They felt they couldn’t get away with anything. Now that they’re adults, they have more respect for their dad and for what he does. They understand the dangers; especially in today’s society, but they also know their dad is an experienced police officer and he is ready for all situations that arise. It gives me comfort and peace as well, knowing that even in a deadly situation he will always do the right thing. Our son has also considered a career in law enforcement. Advice from his veteran office dad is to get some real life experience first and then consider a law enforcement career. At 21, he’s much too immature for this very important community role.
Coping Skills & Friendships
Developing coping skills is an important part of being the spouse of a police officer. Friendships with other law enforcement families and spouses are important as these individuals know what we deal with on a daily basis. It is important to have the network.
Educator to Officer
I married an educator 30 years ago who was offered a full time law enforcement officer job when teaching jobs were scarce. We were excited and naively never considered how dangerous the profession is. He soon loved his detention officer job; however, the shift work was a huge adjustment. We had a very active young son and together he and I had many outings to the park and zoo and visits to family members as my husband slept during the day so he could work safely at night.
Work opportunities came along and he became a patrol officer and earned various training certificates. Along with the change came more stress and fear for me. Will he get injured? Will he be safe? Will he be able to train new officers? Will the new officers be safe from his training?
Despite Variety, No Painless Law Enforcement Jobs
Thereafter, he was thrilled about an opportunity to join the dive rescue team. He loved the water and was excited to become a certified diver. All I could think of was that his job now entailed locating drowned individuals. Our sons loved the idea of him being on the dive rescue team and had to have their own snorkel and mask just like their dad. It certainly was not exciting for me to help him recover from the experience of finding a boy close to our son’s age. The drowning victim’s family was grateful that their son’s body was recovered but I was not grateful for having to help him deal with his own personal recovery.
It was exciting when he was offered a full time training officer opportunity. We were back to a Monday thru Friday schedule with an eight hour work day. Honestly, it was an adjustment for the boys and me to have their father around after 5pm and on weekends, but I had no more worrying about him taking calls in his patrol car.
I got to relax my fears and worries for a few years. Though he loved being a law enforcement instructor at a technical college, he missed the excitement and challenge of hands-on law enforcement. And now that our sons graduated and there was less activity in the household, once again, he was back on the road as a patrol officer.
We are older and hopefully wiser, but that does not make it easier to adjust to 12 hour shifts. We see how our city has grown and changed over the years; however, the changes became very real when he went back to being a patrol officer dealing with the activities that go on in the community. My worries, stress and fears greatly escalated as he began patrolling again.
As the grandchildren appear and the activities and events start up again, it’s not as easy to miss out on the special occasions. We are fortunate that another advancement opportunity appeared and he is back to Monday thru Friday with 8 hour a day.
Things have changed throughout my husband’s law enforcement career but a spouse’s worry for her husband and co-workers and their families never ends. I’ve had the stress of attending my husband’s co-worker’s funeral. Dealing with the reality that it could’ve been him never leaves my mind. As my husband starts his job as a supervisor in the detention center, my stress and worries don’t go away. They only change in the direction of inmates not cooperating.
When he came home from a long 12 hour shift, I would ask if it was busy and his usual response was, “No not really.” We rarely spoke details about the calls he answered. I really didn’t want to know the details as it would make me have to realize how dangerous his job really was. Sometimes I would overhear him talking to his friends about the exciting and interesting things (at least they thought they were) he had to deal with.
It’s not exciting to help him recover from finding a family that was murdered by their son. It’s not exciting to hear him toss and turn as he tries to sleep from a long day of stressful work. It’s not exciting to help him heal his sore body because of diving into a snow bank so he wasn’t run over by a car sliding on the ice.
Retirement Near, Can I Breathe?
It’s pretty clear that my husband’s law enforcement job won’t get less stressful; it seems to only increase as the years go on. My worries now come from seeing his aging body trying to make it through an 8 hour stressful day. It has me looking forward to his retirement. We deserve to enjoy some stress free years. I need to breathe.
All those in law enforcement deserve to breathe. Remember to thank those who serve and those who stand by them.
©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.
For more information and support log on to:
Leave your comments below.
Want to be notified of the next blog post/article? Leave your first name and email on the home page in the red, white & blue box.