I recently heard about a man who carries water bottles with him for the sole purpose of giving them away. A man who makes conversation with strangers and checks in on families whose children are in need of a role model.
He is one of our own, a Frederick City Police Officer. But for some time, he remained nameless.
Intrigued by both the anonymity and the potential for a great story, I set out to find out more about him.
When I inquired after the officer, the Public Information Officer only shared my questions. He and the Chief of Police jumped in to help with my query.
After phone calls and email chains, the officer’s identity was discovered. In fact, I had the pleasure of speaking with him myself. I learned about his work as an officer, as a community champion. And I learned the same about the men and women who work alongside him daily.
Officer First Class (OFC) Andrey Salahov was not only polite but was clearly wise beyond his years. He shared his experience as a police officer and provided insight to the career in general.
“Every day is different. Every call is different,” OFC Salahov begins.
He explains that some days are full of emergency calls involving an endangered life, an arrest or a family crisis. And yet other days are more laid back but are important all the same. During those shifts, OFC Salahov stops in with children “randomly and check[s] in with families, to build relationships with the community.”
He acknowledges that there are people with negative perceptions of police officers, but that a lot of people do show appreciation and like having someone to check up on them.
Officers balance a lot on their plates each day. From calls, to ride-alongs, to serving the community, to averting a crisis.
For them, the constant balancing act continues 24/7, not just when they are on a shift. This is what OFC Salahov explained as the biggest challenge on the job: not allowing the stress and strain of a day’s work to interfere with personal and family life.
“We have to come home and be a daddy, a husband or wife,” says OFC Salahov.
He adds that a police officer must work hard to “be the light not only in the community but also in [his/her] family” and that is challenging, especially during the stress of a busy season when officers may find themselves facing a plethora of alarming calls.
He continues, explaining that stress can come from “trying to do right by the people, doing the right thing” and then coming home to your kids who need the best from their parent, too.
A balancing act, indeed.
Chaplain Peter C. Myers, who works alongside the Frederick City officers, shares that although these men and women are highly-trained, highly dedicated professionals, they are still, at the end of the day, “husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and soldiers—as well as police officers. Like the rest of us, they face life's challenges—joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, life and death. They were called to serve the public, and they have responded to that call admirably.”
As a chaplain for the police department, Chaplain Myers is available for spiritual and emotional support in any way an officer may need. He explains, “The amount of stress that officers are expected to manage can take a toll on the officer, but also on the family. So, any way that I can help them manage and process that stress means that they can take a bit less of it home with them.”
Policing is a profession that requires a solid skill-set and an exemplary mental capacity, to be sure. It is a profession nothing short of admirable. And it is certainly not for the faint of heart.
I ventured to ask OFC Salahov what he likes most about his work. After all, it was his own choice and passion to begin with!
“There hasn’t been a day where I don’t enjoy coming to work...It is a fun job. You get to help people!” OFC Salahov shares warmly.
The officers in our communities truly care. They love our communities and want to keep us safe. They want to build relationships. These men and women serve as role models and peace keepers.
It isn’t explicitly stated in the job description, but it’s part of the job all the same.
If you happen to see a police officer this holiday season—and chances are, you will—be sure to thank them for their honorable service.