By Jinnie Chua, Assistant Editor at In Public Safety
While many offices are preparing to close for the holidays, police agencies are preparing for an influx of calls relating to retail thefts, domestic violence, and suicides. Working these calls is not easy for officers who are scheduled for duty, and missing family functions can dampen officers’ spirits even further.
“It’s difficult to see families suffer [from crime] during this time of year,” said Nicole Cain, criminal justice faculty member at American Military University (AMU) who has worked in law enforcement for 17 years. “For officers, balancing work schedules and family time is the most difficult part of the holiday season.”
For officers who will be working over the holidays, several law enforcement veterans and faculty members at AMU give their advice on how to make the most of the situation and still enjoy the festivities.
Reschedule Family Functions
“We celebrate either before or after Christmas when schedules conflict,” said Dena Weiss, a fingerprint analyst and crime scene investigator for 10 years. “It just means leaving the tree up a little longer!”
“We celebrate on Christmas Eve, early in the morning on Christmas Day, or late in the evening, depending on our work schedules,” said Cain. “We always make it work.”
Celebrate with Co-Workers
Whether it’s arranging a Secret Santa or planning a potluck with your co-workers, there are many great ways to make your shift a little more festive.
“We always did a potluck and spent at least one hour sitting down with each other eating and enjoying that hour,” said Anthony Galante, who has spent 13 years working in law enforcement. “It was a great bonding experience.”
“At our police department we have door decorating contests,” added Weiss.
Give Back to Charity
During the holiday season, many organizations have charity events and opportunities that officers can get involved in. “Visit a nursing home and give back to the community as your gift,” suggested Galante.
“My advice to officers would be to just enjoy the charity work we do over the holidays such as Toys for Tots,” said Weiss.
Enjoy the Benefits
Many officers find the extra pay over the holidays to be beneficial. In addition, it’s a great way to engage with the community.
“You are really able to see the community support during the holiday season,” said Galante. “Many groups hold special events for public safety and it was great to meet and greet them during this special time.”