By Steve Pomper
Most cops tend not to like to draw attention. They’re inclined to get embarrassed when someone thanks them for their service even though they genuinely appreciate it. I think it’s because most cops are naturally humble. Since they’re the ones so often doing the helping, which goes with the job description, it can feel strange being on the receiving end of kind gestures.
Still, one of those kind gestures I remember from my days on the job included Thanksgiving Day meals provided to police officers working the holiday. During my career, there were two different equally generous sources for these meals which were equally appreciated by the officers.
The first I recall, back in the ‘90s, was a family that lived in Seattle’s East Precinct. This family went all-out to prepare a Thanksgiving Day feast for cops. Officers could swing by and pick up a plate to go or enjoy the hosts’ hospitality and sit on their porch or in their home.
The family did this for many years. For them, it was important to show appreciation for the officers who served them and helped keep them and their neighborhood safe. Officers will carry these fond memories throughout their careers and into their retirements, as I do now.
The other source for Thanksgiving Day dinner came later in my career, prepared by the Seattle Police Foundation (SPF). The SPF is a private organization dedicated to helping Seattle residents by assisting the city’s police officers in completing their public safety mission efficiently and safely. They’ve helped equip the K9 Unit and have purchased bicycles for Mt. Bike Patrols—and they serve cops a wonderful Thanksgiving Day dinner.
A Seattle Police Mt. Bike Squad
Since I worked second watch, roughly noon to 8 p.m., I could already smell the mouthwatering aroma as I entered the precinct on Thanksgiving morning. Since SPF folks used the roll call room to serve the meal, we held roll call in our precinct break area. Hard to concentrate on what the sarge had to say while that delicious scent filled the precinct and our noses. Otherwise, the sergeant always had our undivided attention. No, really.
We could either go out and begin our shift, then come back to eat. Or eat before we headed out. I’d usually head out first, take a call, then head back and eat while writing my report. Or request a lunch break after I’d written the report. I also didn’t think eating first was tactically or strategically sound. Having to chase a bad guy with a bellyful of Thanksgivingly goodness didn’t seem a wise move to me.
And it wasn’t only the meals that I remember. I recall how friendly the neighborhood folks and the people from the SPF were. We never doubted they enjoyed also missing their own Thanksgiving, voluntarily, and relished making missing a holiday with our families a bit better than it otherwise would have been.
I also remember thinking that they didn’t just call the caterer and poof the food showed up. These folks prepared, cooked, and served Thanksgiving to us. It was a very personal gift that came from their hearts to ours. I’ve been gone for a while and now get to enjoy my Thanksgivings with my family after having missed so many over the years.
That family and the SPF don’t remember me, being one of the hundreds of officers they’ve served over the years. But I will never forget the kindness of either that family who opened up their home to us or the SPF who brought a little bit of home to us at the precinct.