By Captain Lionel Colon
Commander of the Media Unit, Kansas City, MO Police Department
I have been a police officer with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) for 21 years. I’ve spent the better part of eleven years as a sergeant and detective. My current rank is captain. I’m the proud husband of Michele, who is an Internal Medicine and Bariatric medicine doctor at a local hospital. We have two beautiful sons, ages 6 and 8.
My father was also a KCPD police officer. My mom, brother and I grew accustomed to my father working evening shifts and most holidays. Our celebrations had to be in the early morning hours before lunchtime, or when he got home in the evening after 11:30 p.m. I’m used to celebrating Thanksgiving early in the day. It never bothered us as a family, because we were happy just to be together.
I don’t typically get holidays off unless it happens to fall on a rotation that allows me to be off. I have worked just about every holiday for most of my 21 years on the police force.
I remember working every calendar holiday during my first year as a sergeant in the violent crimes division, special victims unit—the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between. This was not disappointing, because at that point in time I was the new guy and I wanted to “pay my dues.” I was also single with no children, and I wanted other officers to experience uninterrupted celebrations. I always made it a point to send my detectives home even if it was for a short period of time. I knew how important family was. That’s what we do. My wife works in the medical field so her schedule is just as demanding as mine. We do our best to make holidays special for our family. We shower our kids with as much love and affection as possible. Sometimes I’ve had to celebrate while I was in uniform and she as well. When we do have time together, we make the most of it. A lot of our celebrations center around food, prayer, and giving to people who are less fortunate.
Those of us who benefit from the services of professionals who work on the holidays shouldn’t take them for granted. We all need to show appreciation. Once I was in the hospital on Christmas, unable to make it home or to work, and the doctors, along with their families, came in and played music for me. I was blown away. So whether you’re at home or at work, you can always find an opportunity to make it special for whoever it is that you’re serving. That’s something people never forget.
I know I’m not in this job for the paycheck. I know sometimes it is an inconvenience, but I see it as “a calling.” I’m going to miss out on a few things—but there’s a greater cause, so it’s worth it.
My wife and I try to live our lives to the fullest. I’ve never been a big Fourth of July guy. However, for my wife, it’s like Christmas. So we always get out and see fireworks. Sometimes we’ll take a train to St. Louis to see the fireworks under the St. Louis Arch, which are absolutely beautiful.
I’m Puerto Rican and my wife is Haitian. Each of us has traditional cultural meals. We are cooking “fanatics.” As a Puerto Rican, it’s not just turkey, but a special type of rice and beans and dessert like flan. At Christmas, my wife’s traditional squash soup is absolutely delicious. Our children have the better of two cultures.
So whatever time we have left, we want to make it joyful and spend as much time with each other as possible. That’s a big deal for me and my wife because we know there are no guarantees.
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