A Wave to the Men and Women in Blue

I am cruising from Portage to Wisconsin Dells along the smooth stretch on Highway 16 when a police car that was half-hidden alongside the road pulls out and follows me. Maybe you know the feeling of having your stomach drop down to your toes.

I check my speed and slow down. He or she keeps following me.

Officers have pulled me over a few times. Once for speeding, once because my license plate had expired, and once because my headlights weren’t working. All those times my mind has raced to thinking about what I’ll say. I’ve never thought about the kind of day the officer is having or the dangers they face. I glance back in my rearview mirror. No red lights yet, but the officer is still behind me.

I set my cruise for 55 and steer down the low-traffic, smooth road. It’s ironic that a police car is following me because I just interviewed Baraboo’s Chief of Police, Rob Sinden. Rob, as he likes to be called, talked about the need for people to consider what officers face on a daily basis. The officers pulling you over might just have put their lives in danger by trying to resolve a domestic abuse case. They might have had to perform CPR on a child or been the first on the scene of a fatal car crash. They might have just tragically found a suicide victim. 

I explained to Rob that I call this weekly column Laugh, Cry, Reflect and asked him to share three stories; one that would make us experience those three emotions. Rob began with the “cry” portion, a tragedy that occurred in 2020 but still affects him today.

In July 2020, a depressed ten-year-old Baraboo girl, Kodie Dutcher, took a handful of pills. She left her home without her phone or her shoes. After the family contacted the Baraboo police, law enforcement enlisted the help of over 20 different agencies. Time was of the essence.

They used drones and a Blackhawk helicopter to search day and night. Sadly, by the time Kodie was found in a cornfield near her home, it was too late. Rob, who is a father himself, pulled out Kodie’s funeral pamphlet with her picture on the front to show me. Even though three years have passed, he still keeps that pamphlet nearby.

NBC nightly news with Lester Holt featured the tragedy. Kate Snow interviewed Kodie’s mother and the news-clip provides information on awareness and suicide prevention. https://nbcnews.to/46az7i1

This tragedy affected every first responder and many others. Rob described the need for the community and team to help one another get through tragedies such as this one.

I glance at my rear view mirror. It’s been ten minutes, and the squad is still following me. If the red lights go on, will the officer appreciate hearing the funny story Rob shared? It was early in Rob’s career and he was working the night shift. Officers would occasionally play tricks on one another.

An officer found a mannequin of the jolly green giant near a dumpster. He took it apart and stuck the torso in another officer’s squad car. Rob was on lunch break at the time and watched as the target of the joke got in his car. He backed it up and then—brake lights. He jerked his head back. Who in the world was in his car!

Rob wraps up our interview by mentioning the Baraboo signs that say, “Be Kind.” Two little words which hold great power. He reflected that at least once a week he encounters a citizen or tourist who tugs on his uniform sleeve or gently places their hand on his shoulder and says, “Thank you for your service.” Every time he hears this, his “batteries are recharged.” 

January 9th is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a chance for the public to thank the men and women in blue who risk their lives for us and strive to keep us safe. 

As I arrive at the intersection near my home, I glance in the rear view mirror. No red lights. I signal right. The officer signals left. 

I give the disappearing officer a final appreciative wave and silently say, “Thank you for being kind.”

8 Replies to “A Wave to the Men and Women in Blue”

Joy Maher

Hi Amy. Just catching up. Your writing is an inspiration and so well done. Thanks for these posts. We live not far from where Kodie Dutcher lived. Police actually came to our house to see if we knew her or where she was. As we leave to go East, we drive right by the place she was found. I do know my friend lived even closer to her. My friend had started having Sunday afternoon gatherings for the kids in the complexes nearby (low income homes). She shared her love, treats and Bible stories. I think Kodie may have been there a few times. It was a very sad story.

Hi Joy,
Kody’s death was sad indeed. Depression in childhood is a real concern and one we need to give more attention.
I’m so glad you’re finding my writing inspirational. I like to give readers something to think about. Thanks for reading.

Uplifting, thoughtful and important article, Amy. Well done!

Hi Gayle,
I’ve enjoyed interviewing people. It continues to astound me all the opportunities I would have missed without having a passion for writing. Thanks for your support.


Great Story Amy and wonderful reminder to appreciate our law enforcement officers.

Hi Debbie,
Thanks for reading. Yes, I am grateful for officers. They have a tough job. Amy

Thank you so much for sharing Amy! I love the reminder to appreciate our people in blue.

Hi Sue,
It’s always great to hear from you. I’m grateful for writing since it allows me to connect to so many people.

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