Whenever we hear a siren, I tell the kids, "Let's pray for whoever is in trouble," figuring that covers anyone who's had an accident, anyone whose house is on fire, anyone who's the victim of a crime, or even anyone who's committed a crime. 

The other day, a police car went by our van, and my husband said, "Let's pray for that police officer." I was ashamed to realize I had never really thought about the police officers being the one in need of prayer -- but they are. When they go to answer a call, they never know what they'll be dealing with: something small, or something really awful and dangerous, or maybe nothing at all. Or it might be the last thing they do on earth. They never know.  

The news is full of police officers who did their job wrong, who abused their power. It's a good thing to shine a light on corrupt or out-of-control police forces, and we should all know what our rights are as citizens. I'm a white, well-educated citizen living in a safe, sleepy community, and I have to make a special effort to remember how lucky I am.  Too many Americans simply don't consider the police to be on their side, and that is an intolerable state for our country to be in.

Now, along with the awful stories of corruption and brutality, we hear the occasional story about a police officer going out of his way to perform some extraordinary act of generosity or service, and that too is a good thing to shine a light on. But even these stories -- the acts of extreme kindness or bravery -- don't provide the full picture of a typical day in the life of a first responder. What's commonplace, and which goes largely unnoticed by most of society, is for thousands and thousands of police officers to do everything right, every time. Every day, thousands of police officers take care of the situation, help someone out, and make the community safer.  These typical days, of course, don't make the news -- but they are occasions of potential danger, every single time. They need our prayers as much as the people they are there to serve.

And what about the bad apples? They need prayer, too. Every siren should be a reminder that someone is in trouble -- a victim, a perpetrator, an officer who is ready to the the right thing, and an officer who is in danger of doing the wrong thing.  So next time you hear a siren, say a Hail Mary or a quick "Jesus, please be with whoever needs your help" -- and remember that that includes the children of God who are in uniform.