The general public imagine police officers as fighting crime, chasing cars and locking up villains. Yes we do all of that. But some of us also perform the duty of a family Liaison Officer. A post volunteered for. A traumatic and stressful position no doubt. You see we are those officers that knock on your door at all times of the day and night and you notice that certain look in our eyes. We are here to tell you that someone isn’t coming home. Ever.
We hate telling you this news, in fact we would gladly volunteer to perform any other duty than tell you a relative has died, but Family Liaison Officers or FLO’s as they are known willingly perform this duty. Why I do it, is at times, a mystery to me. FLO’s fall into two camps; crime related incidents i.e. murder and road deaths. The role is still the same. Primarily investigators but providing support between the family and the investigation. I deal with road deaths.
It is impossible not to get close to those families. I have dealt with numerous families, each unit having specific needs and wants. It is a skill of the FLO to recognise those needs at an early stage.
As stressful on the family it is also stressful on the FLO. Every interaction means giving a piece of ourselves to the family. With every new deployment means a little less of us to give. So how do we top up our emotional bank balance? Quite simply in the majority of cases, the family accept this stranger into their own fold. We become part of the family.
Police officers are not complicated creatures. We can spend a year investigating crime with not a word of thanks. We wonder how life will repay us for all the misery we have caused. All it takes is one victim to say thank you and we are proud, enabled and ready to serve once again. For this is what we do, to serve not ourselves but you.