DEAR ABBY: I'm a federal law enforcement officer and proud of my job. I have worked hard to get to this position, and I would like to live to retirement.
There are people in my community who know what I do for a living and feel compelled to tell everyone else. I don't wear a uniform, and I don't need everyone to know who I am. Many people would never guess what I do for a living, and that is fine with me. Let them assume that I'm a nurse, a secretary or a stay-at-home mom.
If I'm in a social situation off-duty such as a restaurant, school function, church or beauty salon, invariably someone will see me and announce for all to hear, "Do you have your gun in your purse?" or they'll call me by my job title.
I have asked them to please stop and just call me by name. They don't seem to get it. They could get me killed! I'm sure I speak for many other plainclothes officers. I may be having dinner with a friend, or I could be involved in an undercover operation and have my cover blown.
I deal with violent offenders who have family members and friends in the area. Those individuals may attend the same school as my child or the same church that I do. Please, Abby, ask your readers not to make our jobs more difficult than they already are. -- OFFICER ANYWHERE, U.S.A.
DEAR OFFICER ANYWHERE: Your letter is an important one, because I'm sure you're not the only officer of the law who has encountered this problem.
People may act this way because your profession seems glamorous and they want to appear to be "in the know." It could also be thoughtlessness or just plain stupidity. However, because the individuals you mentioned continue to do it despite having been asked not to, my advice is to remind them that there are legal penalties for endangering the life of a member of law enforcement, and if they don't "cease and desist" you will be forced to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.