The Police Wife Life

Written by Heide Brandes in the January 2014 Issue

Melissa and her husbandEvery 53 hours, a law enforcement officer loses his life in the line of duty.

Every 53 hours, twice as many officers take their own lives.

More often than not, police officers throughout America are targets. They are targets for violence, for hatred, for ambush. Despite the fact they keep the public safe from criminals, police officers are despised by many for very little reason. Melissa Littles of Edmond wants that to change. A wife of an Edmond Police officer, she’s seen the horrors of what her husband goes through reflected in his eyes.

She has to deal with the knowledge that people are actively trying to harm the man she loves. “It’s my mission in life to make people aware of what the police do and what they go through daily,” said Littles. “We need people to support our officers again. In 2011, more officers were killed by gunfire than any other year.” After years of research and learning about violence toward police, Littles started The Police Wife Life, an organization designed to help police officers, their spouses and the public become aware of issues surrounding officers today—and to make a change to protect those willing to die to protect others.

THE POLICE WIFE

Littles spent 23 years as a paralegal in high conflict family law, so in 2009, when she was offered a change in her field, she jumped. She began working in wrongful death prison cases where she researched, investigated and read about deaths in the prison system.

“I started noticing that the prisoners who were killed or did the killing were repeat criminal felons. They all revolved through the criminal system,” she said. “Nearly every single one of them had a prior offense of assault on a police officer. I couldn’t find a single one that did not assault a police officer.” The fact that many of the criminals on the street had 50 to 70 prior offenses—including violence toward the police—stunned her. It also opened her eyes to what her husband dealt with daily. She began publishing articles about her thoughts and about the issues police face, and soon, other officers and officer spouses began reaching out to her.  “I started The Police Wife Life Facebook page and website in March 2011,” she said. “We establish contacts and resources internationally for police officers and their families.”

The wife of a police officer in Detroit reached out to The Police Wife Life after the City of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, leaving many officers unsure if they would receive their pensions they had worked their entire careers for.  She feared her husband was suicidal. “He was involved in a shooting, was suffering from PTSD, and he now feared he may lose his job and his pension. They had a very sick child on top of everything else,” said Littles. “They were at their breaking point. She messaged me, panicked because he had taken his personal weapon and their family car and left the house and would not answer his phone.”

Littles immediately contacted Sean Riley, who runs Safe Call Now, an organization which offers emergency help for first responders in need, confidentially.  For several hours, Littles stayed in contact with the distraught wife as she begged her husband to come home. “He finally did and we got him connected to Safe Call Now. He has since received the help he needed and is doing much better as a result,” Littles said.

The Police Wife Life helped change laws, including one that allowed benefits for police K9 officers. Georgia Police Officer Travis Fox and his partner, K9 Lakota, were critically injured in a pursuit, and as a result, K9 Lakota had to be medically retired. Officer Fox and his wife, Corey, were shocked when they discovered police K9s were not treated as officers, but equipment, and therefore did not have the same benefits available after catastrophic injury.

“Corey came to The Police Wife Life seeking help in finding a way to change the law. We have since formed a close friendship with the Fox family and have helped them with legislative work and research for Lakota’s Law, as well as helping them find the legal assistance needed in their state of Georgia,” said Littles. “The Police Wife Life has also remained actively involved in promoting and spreading K9 Lakota’s story.”

The Facebook page currently has more than 30,000 members. Littles is the author of two books, including Bullets in the Washing Machine. She travels regularly for speaking engagements and to host workshops. She says everyone—not just spouses of police officers—can make a change. “Get involved in your community. If you live in a community that hates cops, change the way your community looks at officers.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/thepolicewifelife.

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