“The toll is long, and grand, and will likely be felt for years to come,” police wife and author Kristi Neace said of officers dealing with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and the public outrage over a grand jury decision to not indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Neace’s husband works for a police department neighboring St. Louis and has seen some protesters come through their area but not to the extent that Ferguson and downtown St. Louis has. In the midst of the protests, Kristi wrote a blog post entitled, “Ferguson Perspective from a Cop’s Wife” in which she described her husband’s calling to police work:
My husband is a cop. It was his dream from the time he was a little boy until the day he pinned the badge on. He wanted to help people….to serve his community.
Since the Ferguson demonstrations began in August, Kristi has come to know many officers affected by the protests.
“They have been under a lot of stress; the ones that have been down there, have been sent down there,” Neace told Breitbart News. Officers have been “away from their families, many didn’t get to be with their families for Thanksgiving, a lot of their families were threatened,” and some families had to leave town, she said. “It creates a stressful environment for these officers.”
“Eventually the stress, the wear and tear of the job filters down to their families.”
“We foresee in the near future, as it dies down, this will settle down in the minds of the public but will continue to affect the officers and their families,” Neace told Breitbart.
Having inside knowledge of what officers and their families in the St Louis area are experiencing, Neace revealed, “they’re becoming discouraged because of how they’re being publicized in the media. It’s only showing one side of them, it’s very one-sided.”
When asked how her husband has been dealing with the experience, Neace said, “He’s been under stress through this whole thing, it’s like a brotherhood. We hurt for these officers knowing what they’re going through, and what their families are going through, and not knowing if it will spill over into our area.” Kristi said, “Thankfully God has answered our prayers and we’re very thankful.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, the couple’s son also serves as a police officer.
When asked if she knew how black officers were being affected throughout the protests, Neace said she and her husband have heard from some of these officers and “from what I am hearing, they have probably received the worst treatment of all of them.” From her understanding, “they [black police officers] are seen as traitors.” She told Breitbart, “we have some very good friends that are black officers.”
Breitbart asked Kristi for her perspective on the rioters and racial component of the protests. “All of the rioting is just sinful behavior,” she replied, and “there’s only one race, it’s the human race.”
In regards to officers and their families affected through this and other experiences on the job, Neace shared, “we want to minister to these people and help them.”
After writing a book in 2009 from her perspective as the wife of an officer, Mrs. Neace received many questions from those experiencing the trials of life for families of law enforcement officials. Kristi and her husband came to realize there was a need among law enforcement and their families for support and counseling, and the Neaces were well-experienced to help. The couple started Badge of Hope Ministries in 2010 to serve just this purpose.
The Neaces now speak to officers, their wives, and families about law enforcement marriage and the effect on the family.
“We’re here, we understand it, we’ve lived it,” Kristi Neace said. “We have 26 and a half years in it, who better to help than someone who has walked in those shoes? We have run our share of good times and bad times. We give peer support from our own experience. We love to help in any way we can.”
Kristi Neace said she and others with Badge of Hope Ministries are “praying right now that we might be able to do a ‘heal the hurt’ conference” in the spring. She shared that in the course of the job, “a lot of officers have PTSD, a lot of officers commit suicide.”
“We just need some healing,” Neace said.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.