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The life of a cop on Christmas

For almost everyone else, Christmas is the one day a year they can count on not having to work. But for police, firefighters and EMT’s, like officer Josh Thueson, it is just another day in his patrol car and responding to calls.

“I don’t remember the last time I had a Christmas off to be honest,” Thueson said.

After becoming an officer in 2009, first with the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office and then with the Moscow Police Department three years ago, Thueson said, being scheduled on Christmas has become a part of life.

The father of three said working on Christmas day isn’t so hard on him anymore, but it is hard on his wife and kids.

“The spouses have to pick up a lot of slack whether its shopping for presents or getting stocking stuffers,” he said

And it’s hard on the kids because when they are little they sometimes don’t understand why they can’t open their presents on Christmas morning like the rest of their friends. But as his kids have gotten older they have started to understand more, he said.

Christmas traditions vary a little bit every year depending on the shift he is assigned, Thueson said. This year he was scheduled to work the day shift. That meant Thueson’s day started when he left his house before 6 a.m. and ended just after 6 p.m. when he finally got home. And although the several inches of snow made for a white Christmas it didn’t make the drive to work any easier, Thueson said.

In past years Thueson said he has worked the graveyard on Christmas and was able to get home early in the morning and his family was able to open presents and have breakfast, before he took a nap.

Depending on the shift, “you’ve kind of got to change things around,” he said.

Thueson said he is lucky because the Moscow Police Department allows its officers to go home and spend time with their families when they are not responding to a call.

Most of the calls that the officers respond to on Christmas morning are medical related, Thueson said. In the afternoon and evening when people have eaten and possibly had a few drinks, officers typically respond to a few domestic disputes. Thueson said because of the cold weather and suicide rates on the rise, officers are also on alert for calls to check on the welfare of a neighbor who doesn’t answer the door or a family member who can’t be reached by phone.

“Ideally we wouldn’t have any calls,” Thueson said, “but that rarely happens.”

His Christmas day was not entirely spent away from family, Thueson said. Last year and again this year, his wife came to the Moscow Police Department and made breakfast for the officers who were scheduled to work on Christmas.

Making pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast on Christmas morning is traditionally his job, Thueson said. But since his wife didn’t have to work on Christmas, Thueson said, she stepped in to help. He added he will still be home in time for his family’s traditional prime rib dinner.

Thueson said when he became an officer he knew what he was getting into, and that sometimes having to miss holidays is just a part of the job.

“For us – speaking for most cops – it’s life for us,” he said, “It’s kind of a bummer, but we are in that career field.”

Thueson said it helps having a community like Moscow’s where people are understanding of the hardships.

“We have a very generous and caring community and there is not a day that goes by that gifts aren’t dropped off,” he said.

© 2017 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.