We’ve all heard the phrase, “There’s something about a man in uniform.” For those who have done nothing more than appreciate the view, there is a lot more to consider before making a decision to be a part of all the uniform entails. The two remarkable resilient women you are about to meet will tell you that being the wife of a police officer is not for the weak, self-centered, needy, clingy, insecure, or high maintenance type of woman.
Sue Cirencione and her husband David have been married for 15 years. They first met about 18 years ago when she worked as a Probation Officer and he was working as a Child Protective Case Worker in Seneca County. Within months of getting married, he was hired by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department. He had forgotten to inform his wife that he was on the list and wanted to be a police officer. David started the Monroe County Academy Police Academy Recruit Class 38 later that month. He is now a lieutenant in the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office and mainly supervises road patrols and related operations. They have three daughters.
Kristen Ferguson met her husband, Russell, when he was managing a bar and grill in Brighton with the hopes of becoming a Police Officer. She did not marry into the life, she was volunteered for it, somewhere in her wedding vows. She laughs that she should have read the fine print. Today, her husband is a Rochester Police Officer on the Westside. They have two young daughters.
For Kristen, one of the biggest challenges of being married to a law enforcement officer is parenting alone. “There are no easy shifts for officers, so you can count on weekends mostly alone, evenings, holidays, parties, even fears, any or all of it, alone. It’s a lonely life and you need to be tough. I run my kids to and from events by myself because he is either working or sleeping. I cheer for my kids alone. I cry with them alone. I discipline them alone. We go to mass alone. I trade that so my husband can have family meals with us every night of the week and tuck his kids in every night.” To them, that matters. “Daddy needs to be the last face they see when they go to sleep, and the first face they see before they get on the bus. Mommy is the one to hug everything else away, and trust me, just watching the news daily, I give out a lot of hugs. You do your best to shield them but children know. They feel it.”
Her rewards come from knowing he’s happy. “To leave your family behind every day to face the unknown is extremely difficult. He makes that sacrifice willingly because he knows he makes a difference, even if it’s just in small ways some days. My husband is the reason the sacrifice that we all make feels like a commitment. We commit ourselves to each other as a family, and to our unseen families – to stand together for a greater good.” It’s true. We let go of our individual needs, simply because we have to. We serve those we’ve never seen or met, by letting someone we hold most dear walk out the door each night without question, and pray he returns safely. “My reward, knowing he’s happy serving those families and serving us in his own sacrifice. He doesn’t give us up for those in need, but because of those in need, and I’m perfectly fine with that.”
According to statistics, police marriages fall victim to an extremely high divorce rate, and there is good reason for that. Sue Cirencione gave us some tips on how she handles being married to a law enforcement officer.
“I’ve been in law enforcement myself (18 years as a Probation Officer) so I feel that gives me a little more appreciation of some of the issues that law enforcement officers face. David and I talk about his day (and mine back when I was out in the field), his frustrations, our fears. I feel like it is important for officers to be able to talk openly and honestly about what they face day and day out so they don’t carry that burden with them daily. My husband has seen some horrific things and I’ve seen them through him, but it’s what makes us a team.” It’s no surprise she counts her husband as her biggest inspiration in her life. “He inspired me to be a better person and mother, because he is simply one of the best people I know.” After experiencing the journey of breast cancer a few years ago, she also counts her children as inspiring her to be as healthy as I can possibly be. “Those three girls are why I get up every day.”
Kristen Ferguson said she takes one day at a time when it comes to how she handles being married to a law enforcement officer. Adding that she relies heavily on her faith in God, our marriage, and my girls, “I keep my mind occupied on life, never what if, or what could happen. Fear is always there, but you can’t let it consume you. I focus on being a friend, and wife, and living right here, right now. I was very unaware going into this how different my life would so do I find ways to make the days ‘normal’ for us. I find it helps to really appreciate the time he has off, to recognize the value of the time we have. I take nothing for granted, I can’t.” One of Kristen’s biggest inspirations is a woman she met later in life. “She left a mark on me in the short time I had the privilege of knowing her, but none the less, Edith Ferguson inspires me constantly. She was a woman of true grace and kindness. She defined what it means to love unconditionally and her strength defied all odds.”
Kristen views her law enforcement wife role as a responsibility for sure, as both a role model for her children, and how society views law enforcement in general. “We live in a fishbowl, so everything I do should be worthy of the arm I share and that arm wears a uniform. He worked hard to wear that uniform. How selfish would it be of me to tarnish that for him, or any other Officer? I also need to be responsible as a woman, to teach my daughters how to be strong, and carry themselves with dignity, integrity, and honesty. I don’t wear the badge, but I have been there the entire way and paid my own dues, so my own courage is not without its own merit and my girls need to realize how they have it within them as well – now, more than ever, as we are facing damaging viewpoints of law enforcement, and senseless violence against our officers.”
“Strength isn’t always found, it needs to be taught and I’m a firm believer in leading by example. Do I have bad days? Absolutely! Do I want to engage with the people who say horrible things about the police? Of course! I don’t view it as a burden, ever. If it were the other way around, my husband would stand by me 100 percent, so I’m proud to say I’m married to a Police Officer. I’m proud of him. He worked hard to be where he is, and he’s a good man. I’m blessed to be a part of this Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) family. It’s an instant connection that binds us all. When one is in need, we all come together, it’s never a question. When one rejoices, we all do. There is a saying, in this family, no one stands alone. Does that contradict what I mean by being a lonely life? Yes, a little. Inside my house my partner is missing, but in my family, I am surrounded by hundreds of brothers and sisters that would come to my aid at the drop of a hat. I can’t describe what a powerful feeling that is, to belong to the biggest family in the world. It goes back to commitment vs. sacrifice. This life I live is not one I chose, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Both Kristen Ferguson and Sue Cirencione are volunteers with the Badge of Honor Association and are on the planning committee for the Policeman’s Ball.
Join us on May 20th for the Bob Johnson Chevrolet Nissan Websmart Policeman’s Ball to benefit the Badge of Honor Association. Visit www.badgeofhonorassociation.com