Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do

Last week J and I were talking shortly before I went to bed. As we got off the phone, he mentioned that he had to go back up another deputy on a DUI accident.

A few hours later when he got home, I woke up enough for him to tell me that the accident had been caused by friend of J's family. Someone he'd grown up across the street from. Someone whose parents still had dinner with J's parents from time to time. He was fine, no injuries, and his car was the only one involved. But by the time J arrived at the scene, the friend was refusing to do any tests, including the breathalyzer. In Ohio, that's an automatic suspension of your driver's license.

Not only does J have no recourse because he wasn't the responding officer, but he wouldn't have had a choice anyway. There is damaged property, and the friend is refusing to comply with the other deputy. At this point he will be arrested. When J shows up, the friend naturally sees an old familiar face, and feels safer, thinking he won't be in as much trouble now. Even asks for J once he's in the back of the cruiser, cuffed.

Obviously J has an internal conflict about this situation. It's only natural to want to help a friend out, but the damage is done and the consequences need to be paid.

We chat about it for a few minutes in the dark of our bedroom. I reach out my hand to him, to let him know I sympathize. The tone of his voice is heavy with a unique mix of emotions, some sympathy for and disappointment in his friend's actions, his duty and obligation as a LEO. We drift off to sleep.

Two days later we happen to be having dinner with J's parents and sisters. The family of the arrested friend just so happens to come up in conversation, and without even thinking, I start to mention that J has a story about him. J immediately interrupts with, "No I don't."

This isn't the first time he's arrested or been aware of the arrest of someone that his family knew. And in those situations, he's never shared gossip either. I don't know if my brain just forgot that fact, or what. I may have mentioned before, that the neighborhood J and his family grew up in was somewhat Norman Rockwell. The parents of several of the families were all friends, the daughters grew up going to prom together and participating in each other's weddings, the sons raced their bikes up and down the streets and played hide and seek games spread over several back yards. It seems only natural to me that they would be interested in the arrest, even from a sympathetic point of view.

J was quick to shut down the conversation and make it known that he wasn't going to be sharing any sort of information, but obviously there's already some damage done. Later I apologize for the gaff and he forgives me, but it's been weighing on my mind over the last week or so. I betrayed a spousal confidence.