A Holiday Thank You!

The holidays are here, and it always seems to sneak up before we know it.

So…I thought it fitting to say thank you.

Actually, a two-sided thank you.

But first, I want to get this out of the way…

Firefighters, thank you! I hated running into burning houses and directing traffic during accidents…thanks for doing that for me!

EMTs and Paramedics, thank you! You EMS folks have stitched me together, taken me to the hospital, and cleaned me up way too many times…all with smiles and hugs…thank you!

Dispatchers rock! Thank you! Psst…these guys and gals have literally saved my bacon (Um, no pun intended) several times. Thank you!

Military, yes, all branches…thank you!

You all work the holidays at the expense of family get-togethers, great food, football games, board games, and a whole slew of other sacrifices that no one understands except you…Thank You!

But, the focus of this two-sided Thank You is for Law Enforcement, and I make no apologies.


My very first shift with the Sheriff’s Office was on a New Years Eve, many moons ago. I had the glorious privilege of that, being the night, I would work my first suicide.

Since then, I worked every Thanksgiving. I think I had a New Year’s Day off once, but I don’t remember. I also worked all but three Christmases.

Why do I say this? Not to brag, but to shed some light on unknown—or at least, little thought given—to what goes on with cops during the holidays.

The agency I retired from, to this day, affectionately calls a certain homicide that occurred on Thanksgiving Day as, The Thanksgiving Day Massacre. Yes, I was the first of two cops that busted down the door to find…well, the cute name that is forever embedded in that agency speaks of what it was.

I was still chewing on turkey when that call came out.

Some of the worst calls ever, and I mean ever, came on, or around, Thanksgiving Day for some reason. Then there’s Christmas.

One Christmas night, I worked a hideous traffic accident just outside our jurisdiction’s border. The other jurisdiction didn’t have a deputy in the area, so guess who they called?

I got on scene to find a woman partially ejected from the driver’s seat. Oh, the van she was driving was upside down. A firefighter and I performed CPR on what was left of her until the paramedics arrived.

A few hours later, dispatch called me to do a death notification.

Okay, I did those all the time too. Except…

I was to tell the adult son, on Christmas Night, that his mother died in a car crash. Yes, the same crash I worked earlier.

Suicides? Yeah, all the time. Belligerent drunks? Yes, all the time.

I think I’ve been called everything in the book on Christmas except Merry.

And. That’s. O…kay.

It’s what we do. It’s how we roll.

We take great pride that we keep all the things that go bump in the night at bay, so others can enjoy the holidays with their families and not think about whether they’re safe or not.

Yet, please know, there is a huge price being paid by every Police Officer, Sheriff Deputy, and State Trooper during the Holidays.

The price is great, and it’s heavier than anyone realizes, including themselves.


Dr. Beverly Anderson, a well-known psychologist for Washington D.C. Metro, has said that cops experience traumatic stress differently from all the other vocations of public service.

To paraphrase Dr. Anderson…first of all, it’s the public view toward police. Not everyone likes us. Especially these days. I won’t bore you with what you already know.

Then there’s the constant hypervigilance. Always aware. Always judging who’s who. Always needing to be on high alert. This is not easily explained.

Think of a time when you walked down a dark street and you were on pins and needles, just waiting for the boogieman to jump out. This is what a cop deals with…every second…of every shift.

That cop has to be on hi-alert. And, I will testify, it deteriorates the insides like nothing else on this planet.

Dr. Anderson also went so far as to say, without diminishing the trauma of combat, that the cop deals with trauma in a more unique way than a combat veteran.

In combat, soldiers are assigned to a hostile zone for six months to a year, maybe longer depending on what’s going on, and then they’re out of there.

The cop? He or she will experience twenty years of peacetime combat. In their own country. And…not know who the enemy is. The enemy? Could be anyone at any age.

The bottom line is this…

If you happen to see a cop this holiday season, stop to tell them Thank You.


Now…for a quick shout out—the two-sided part of this Thank You—goes to those who have thanked a cop during the holidays.

You awesome folks that made goodies and brought them into the office. You brought them to dispatch. To the jail. To the patrol unit.


You took time out of your precious day to acknowledge the work that goes on during the holidays.

I can’t tell you what it’s like after some serious mind-bending situations to return to the office, and there on my desk is a dark chocolate bar.

Or a plate full of cookies, or cake, or something like that.


Angels do exist! And they were you!

Thank you!


A cop may be sitting in a Starbucks sipping coffee. Heck, I hope they ARE eating a donut.

I have gone without a holiday meal many times because it was too busy to stop to eat anything.

Oh, and the cop sitting on the side of the road without the headlights on?

Yeah…before you judge them for not doing their job and chasing down crime…please consider this…

They probably already did and they’re trying to get their head together before the next call.

Sipping coffee and eating a donut because they couldn’t have turkey, ham, and all the fix-in’s…because someone had to be on duty to give mouth-to-mouth to the baby that just died…on Christmas.

Well, enough of the crazy stories, which are only the simple ones to convey.

So…THANK YOU for your sacrifices this Holiday Season! To all of you, who wear a badge, armor, and all that you deal with…that will change your life forever.

Thank you!

Posted by Christian Martin Jr.