Editor’s Note: Christmas a risky day for cops

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

All Officer Brian Gadwell wants for Christmas is a little peace on the little piece of the Earth he’s responsible for today.

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for the rest of us, but for cops it is one of the most dangerous days of the year. That’s because a lot of what police will be doing today is intervening in domestic disputes.

“Later in the day, people start to party, the drinks come out and before long a fight brews and we get dragged into it,” says Gadwell, a native Detroiter with 15 years with the city’s police department, currently assigned to the 4th Precinct.

Gadwell will leave behind his family — a fiance and three children — when he reports for duty today. He says when called to restore peace in someone elses family, there’s always a good chance the battling parties will unite against him.

“My partner and I stopped once at a house where a guy was dragging a woman down the stairs, choking her,” he says. “We pulled him off her, and she jumped on my back and started hitting me. You just never know what will happen.”

This year, the uncertainty and the wariness is even greater in the aftermath of the assassination of two patrolmen sitting in their squad car in New York City. Gadwell is troubled by the anti-police sentiment fueled by nationwide protests against police abuse.

“It changes everything,” he says. “I’m scared to pull my squad car to the curb to write up a report. Someone might sneak up on me. You feel like it could happen at any moment.”

Cops are human. They get frightened, they lose their temper, they sometimes make bad decisions. When most of us make a mistake on the job, we’re embarrassed, but we go home and life is normal.

When a police officer makes a mistake, lives get ruined, including quite possibly his or her own. That’s a heavy burden to carry around every day.

While we’re enjoying quality family time on this Christmas Day, we should remember officers like Brian Gadwell, who will be risking his life to keep Christmas peaceful in our community. Imagine what our lives would be without him.