DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter from "Reader in the East" (March 21), asking what to give someone who has just graduated from the police academy. Abby, the patron saint of police officers and law enforcement is St. Michael, not St. Christopher!
Another thoughtful gift would be a charm of the trooper's shield with his badge number on it. I gave my husband a small replica of his shield with his number on the front and a message of love and safety on the back. He never goes out the door without his "good luck shield." He says that it and his bulletproof vest are the best protection he has. (He also has a St. Michael's medal, and wears it as well.) -- TROOPER'S WIFE IN NEW YORK
DEAR TROOPER'S WIFE: Thank you for the excellent gift idea, and for straightening me out about who the patron saint of law enforcement is. (Many folks corrected me on that one.) Others offered alternative suggestions for gifts. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Police officers spend many hours in their patrol cars. Thermal coffee mugs and coolers in which to carry their lunch make great gifts. Also, if someone really wants to go all out, an extra pair of handcuffs always comes in "handy." (Pun intended!) I hope this helps. -- POLICE OFFICER'S WIFE IN HOUSTON
DEAR ABBY: If the officer is Hispanic, a St. Sebastian medal would be appropriate. "St. Seb." is the patron saint of Hispanic police officers. -- AUDREY IN PITTSBURGH
DEAR ABBY: How about a picture frame to showcase his official officer photo? Or, the reader could contact the police department he will be joining to see where their officers purchase uniform items. Those uniform shops sell numerous accessories for police officers that can be purchased by civilians. -- TOM IN EWING, N.J.
DEAR ABBY: A high-powered flashlight is a good gift, or a very nice pen with black ink for report writing. Also, check to find out if he has to buy his own body armor. Bulletproof vests can cost around a thousand dollars, and money toward that purchase could be money well-invested. -- TERRI IN JENNINGS, KAN.
DEAR ABBY: My mother gave me a policeman's Bible. I lost my job as a police officer due to alcohol. If I had stayed with my head in the Bible rather than my lips to the bottle, I'd still be pursuing the job I had waited for since birth.
Also, please tell the soon-to-be officer first and foremost to remember his code of ethics, and anytime he deals with someone, regardless of race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation, always treat that person as he would want a member of his family treated. If he has the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics in his heart and follows it, I can almost guarantee him a long and successful career. -- HOPING TO HELP, JACKSON, MISS.
DEAR ABBY: I have been a police officer for 15 years. I would suggest getting him something NOT related to police work -- movie tickets, a video rental card, dinner for two. "The job" can destroy marriages, relationships, even people. From a cop's point of view, the best gift "Reader in the East" can give is time with loved ones away from work, along with a note of good luck, of course. -- CHASING BAD GUYS IN OREGON