Twenty five years ago today, I began a life changing journey. On July 24, 1986, I raised my right hand and swore to protect the citizens of the city of Indianapolis as a police officer for the Indianapolis Police Department. Looking back, I see how naive I was and how much I had yet to learn.
I look back in amazement as to how I even got to that point. It was always my dream to be a police officer. I don't know why. I did not know any police officers or had I ever had any contact with law enforcement. I just knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. It never occurred to be that I would anything but a police officer.
The academy was 16 grueling weeks of classroom training and physical training. We lost several people in our class as we went along. Again, it never occurred to be that I would not make it. Perhaps it was my being so naive and not knowing I couldn't succeed that caused me to succeed.
I had a very successful career. It was a job I loved from the beginning until I retired 5 years ago. Sure, there were times that were tough, but it was a lifestyle that I thrived in. There is a true brotherhood that comes with the job. We were not just fellow officers, we were family.
I had many jobs while on the department. I worked the streets, did detective work, worked undercover operations and drove the paddy wagon. In 2000, after years of studying and several attempts, I was promoted to Sergeant. I had some great assignments as a supervisor. My favorite was the supervisor over the bicycle and walking patrol downtown.
It was never my intention to retire after 20 years. I planned on working the full 32 years to receive my maximum pension. However, there were several events that changed my course.
The first was my divorce. I met my ex-husband about 3 years into my career. We were together for most of my career. He was my sergeant. Again, due to being naive and not being true to myself, it was never really a good coupling. He was mentally abusive and very promiscuous. It took a tornado for me to wake up.
In a nutshell, we lost everything in that tornado and it caused us to live apart for a while. While away from him, I began counseling to try to save our marriage. I had an awesome therapist who worked with me and helped me realize if he didn't want to try, it wasn't going to work. She also helped me realize who I really was.
After our divorce, it was difficult not to see him while I was working. It made life really hard and stressful for me. It was as if when we were dividing up all our possessions in the divorce, he got the department. I felt like I was not treated as well and it was all my fault that we had divorced. (I am sure much of this feeling was in my head, but it felt very real to me at the time. Besides, I was his 4 wife and one of his other exes was also a police officer.)
Shortly after the divorce, I met Brenda, thanks again to my therapist! My therapist was also working with both of us in a women's group she was conducting and saw the connection we had immediately. Our relationship is everything that is supposed to define a relationship.
We started talking about moving to a warmer climate. We both liked Tucson, AZ and her daughter lived out here. We visited here and knew this was were we wanted to be. I was about to complete 20 years on the department, the time needed to be vested and be able to collect a pension at age 52. We decided to put the house up for sale and see what would happen. Well, three months later, we were here in Tucson. We knew this was meant to be.
We knew that we would have to wait about 4 years before I could start collecting my pension. We figured I was young enough to find another job or even another career. So off we went.
Unfortunately, the job market out here is not the best and the pay is very low. I have worked at various jobs, most of them horrible, until I was finally able to start collecting my pension.
OK, I kind of went off course a little there.
When you become a police officer, it is not just a job. It is a lifestyle. I miss that lifestyle very much and sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had stayed there just a little longer. I really miss the action and being part of that fraternity. On the other hand, my life is very sweet right now. Sure we have gone through some tough times out here and things didn't work out like we thought. However, things have worked out just like they were meant to.
We are very happy here and things are getting better all the time. We are finally in a position where we are not just getting by and only able to afford the basics. We are able to work on our future again and begin that process. We have a little breathing room and can actually save money. (We had saved more than enough for our vacation we just took.)
I am very proud of my years on the Indianapolis Police Department. I served my city and agency well. I did my best and received honors because of my work. Above all, I am thankful that I am earning a pension and able to only work part time if and when I want to. We are enjoying life and doing some traveling. Because of my pension, we will be able to become full time RVers and not have to worry about an income.
To all my classmates still out there fighting crime and suppressing evil-I salute you!