Coachella Valley Region
We don’t often hear from the families of law enforcement officers. They’re the quiet unsung heroes who support those who are on watch protecting our communities. These men and women also support each other in good times and in bad. We respected their wishes to only use first names and not identify their deputies or families for this story.
Behind many of the sheriffs’ deputies you see on patrol there’s a group of dedicated men and women. This is the Spousal Support Group Serving the Riverside County Sheriffs Department and on this day they’re making care packages for the children of families in the San Diego Police Department who recently lost one of their own.
"Today we’ll be packing for the families of San Diego and for their officers because they’ve suffered such a tragic loss," says Kylleen, who is the wife of a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy who also, runs the support group.
Members of the group are over 1000 strong, but privacy is important to law enforcement families, so they remain in the shadows, quietly doing charity and lifting up those who need it most.
"If something happens in our law enforcement family or outside of our law enforcement family, we rally around," says Kylleen.
And they rarely speak out about the dangerous, public work their loved ones do.
"I don’t really think about it, the family doesn’t think about it because it can be difficult if you do," says Paco, whose wife is a sheriff’s deputy.
"We as a family try not to think about because it would be paralyzing so we just live our lives just like normal families," adds Kylleen.
But they admit, everyday their deputy makes it home is a victory.
"You just live your life day to day and then just hope that when that shift is over she comes home and walks through that door," says Paco.
While the tragedy they see is not forgotten, they don’t dwell on the what ifs, they choose to live in the moment.
"We appreciate the time we do get together because of those incidents we know that the time is precious and a lot of people in the world they don’t really get to know how precious their time is," says Kylleen.
Those who work in law enforcement are often scrutinized. Their families accept that goes with the territory, but they want people to realize law enforcement officers are people too.
"People see them and they think that they’re just a uniform and they don’t realize that they’re husbands and fathers and they put on that uniform to protect the community," says Kylleen.
"We’re a family just like everybody else we go to work, we come home, we have family, we have good days we have bad days, it’s no different than any other job the difference is it’s a little more public," says Paco.
And as far as the recent criticism often hurled at all officers because of the actions of a few they say they can’t let it affect them because they know the truth.
"I wish the world could see what I see because then there wouldn’t be any mistrust or hate," says Kylleen.
Because their courage often goes unnoticed, most of us would call them the unsung heroes behind those who wear the badge but they say their reason to stand a little taller is because of the work their heroes do everyday.
"I’m extremely proud, I’m proud of what she accomplished I’m proud of what she stands for … there’s nothing but pride in our family to say my wife is an RSO deputy," says Paco.
"He gets up everyday and he puts on a uniform and he goes out to try and tries to make the community a better place to live, everyday I look at him and I’m so proud of him," says Kylleen.
We would like to thank the Spousal Support Group Serving the Riverside County Sheriffs Department for sharing their stories.