To the Board of Supervisors,
Every time you see a cop they might seem cool, calm and collected. However, after being married to a deputy, I know first hand that most of the time that calm demeanor is nothing more than a front. The level of anxiety these deputies carry is unimaginable. Even when not on the job, they are constantly aware and having to watch their backs. While other families may enjoy a relaxing evening out, our evenings are constantly met with abrupt endings because “daddy arrested the man two tables down for drugs, and we may not be safe here!”. These deputies are dads, coaches, friends, teachers, and pillars in the community, but most of all they are people like everyone else.
As a Deputy’s wife, I see the side of this job that no one else sees. Daily I see the cop that comes home from a long 12 hour shift and musters up enough energy to play with his kids. I see the cop who coaches t-ball practice, even though he is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted from work. I receive the phone calls from my husband telling me that his 12 hour shift has been extended by another four hours, as he is covering for someone who has called in sick. Everyone else will only see a badge; however, I see the man behind the badge.
The men and women of Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department are good and outstanding people who truly work hard. They possess deep levels of integrity, devotion, and put their heart and soul behind the badge! They bring a sense of safety with their presence. And quite frankly, they are NEEDED in this community. The compassion and sense of professionalism they possess is amazing. I am constantly in awe of how they are able to continue to be such positive, proactive, and wonderful people, despite all of the terrible things they witness on a daily basis.
The crime rate in Tuolumne County is growing at a dangerous rate, yet the amount of deputies employed continues to decrease. While Tuolumne County may not compare to Stockton in levels of crime; these deputies are still putting themselves in dangerous situations every day, and they are one of the reason that we do not see levels of crime like in Stockton.
Please understand, with such a substantial cut to my husband’s pay, we may lose our house or be forced to leave the county. The thought of leaving is absolutely devastating, as our roots are here. We both grew up in this county, attended school in this county, and would love to raise our twins in this county. However, we may be forced out of this county because of the drastic pay cut that my husband may soon experience.
I realize that cuts are a necessity, but why must it come from our hard working law enforcement? Do the citizens of Tuolumne County not appreciate their safety and peaceful way of life? Do we really not value the selfless men and women who put their lives on the line every single day so that you and I may go about our daily routines without the fear that exists in other cities or counties? How is it that those who are the most needed receive the harshest cuts? It seems as though trimming back on non-essential services would make more sense.
In closing, I would ask that you think about your own personal daily routine. Perhaps your alarm goes off early in the morning and you begin your day with a cup of coffee. What are your thoughts as you get ready for work? Do you look at what tie to wear with your suit? Or which shoes may be the most comfortable for your day ahead? As you are getting dressed, what is going through your mind? Perhaps you are thinking about the meetings that are stretched out in front of you, the various appointments you must meet for your day, or perhaps you are feeling the weight of how you will accomplish this ginormous task of reducing the budget?
Now I would like you to place yourself in the shoes of a Deputy Sheriff. Your alarm goes off while it is still dark outside and you begin your day with a cup of coffee. Instead of deciding what tie to wear with your suit, you lift a bullet-proof vest and place it on your chest. Instead of deciding what shoes will be more comfortable to wear, you fasten a gun holster around your waist. You are not thinking about the appointments and meetings that are ahead of you; instead, you are focused on the emergency calls you might be responding to.
Once you are fully dressed you walk down the hall to where your kids are sleeping. You slowly crack the door so as not to wake them…and then you stare at your children. You take in each breath and movement, and you wonder if today will be the last day that you will be able to do this. You caress their faces, kiss them on the forehead, and walk out of the room. Before you leave for work you make one more stop, your bedroom. Here is where you will kiss your worried spouse goodbye. You leave saying, “See you after work”, but you both share a look that communicates the truth of the situation…this may be the last kiss you share. This is your daily routine.
EVERY day you are confronted with your own mortality. Daily you are cursed at and yelled at. You see things that the general public would not be able to handle. You deal with abused children, abused women, people who have overdosed on drugs, men and women with warrants out for their arrest, drunk drivers, people who are in desperate situations, and people who flat out hate cops. You respond to car accidents, house fires, and must witness the tragedy of suicide. My question to you is, would you do all of this for $25 an hour? Would you be willing to carry the emotional weight of this career for $25 an hour? And would you continue to do this if your $25 an hour wage was cut?
Tuolumne County has some of the finest, most dedicated Sheriffs around. However, this county will see a decrease in quality law enforcement if we are not willing to place a value on the job that these men and women do. Please, as you consider how to balance the budget, I ask that you not devastate the livelihood of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily.
I will eagerly await a response from each of you, as I know this is an issue that is of utmost importance to us all