Updated: Apr 23
**Please note that there are some disturbing details in this entry that sensitive readers might want to avoid.**
On a recent ride along, I was reminded of the side of policing that often isn't spoken of: the emotional burden that police officers carry on our behalf. The shift itself consisted of three calls related to children and two related to elderly/disabled, but it was one of those children's calls that was particularly devastating. It involved six siblings, all under the ages of 13. I cannot get into details due to pending legal action and to protect the anonymity of the children themselves.
The call was very challenging for me, and it is still on my mind, yet that's what our police officers do every day. They go into work, knowing the dangers--which is something the public is very cognizant of--but they also carry with them the silent burden of knowing that they may be called to the house of a SIDS death. One of the officers we work with once received a call from a child who stated, "My baby sitter is dead." He responded, thinking it was an overdose. It wasn't. It was a child saying, "My baby sister is dead."
Another officer told me a story of a 2-year-old who had received third degree burns on his body. The mother's boyfriend said that the child showered by himself and the child set the water too hot. The child was transported in cardiac arrest. The mother was called to the house from work and taken into custody as a person of interest due to multiple healing fractures in the child's body, including skull fractures. She didn't ask about the condition of her son for six hours while she was being questioned.The officer was so affected by the incident that he went home and spoke to his wife, making plans to hopefully adopt the child if he survived. He did not.
I could share more, but I won't. Every officer that you see has these stories. Every one of them. They carry these burdens for us just as surely as they protect us from violence. On a day when our nation reels from two mass shootings in less than 24 hours including one very close to our Columbus home, please remember that even after the initial emergency is over, our police and other first responders have a heavy responsibility to bear. One that they willingly take on without complaint, and I am incredibly grateful to them for doing this every day.
Many of the officers Starfish works with have more than 20 years with Columbus Division of Police. To be able to go to work every day and deal with the worst that our society has to offer for that long and yet still maintain that level of compassion is awe inspiring to me. Thanks to all of our donors and volunteers for allowing us to support these dedicated members of law enforcement as they work to improve the lives of the people they come in contact with.