"Police usually deal with people at their worst and (with) some of the worst people," says Woods Cross Police Officer Michael E. Wright.
"When you go home at night, you are often full of sadness or depression at some of the things you've had to deal with on your shift. You don't know what to say to your wife. Often, you just don't say much and a lot of wives don't understand a cop's silence or his depression."I'm lucky. My wife is a cop."
Wright and his wife, Karen, are a rarity police officers who ride together regularly and back each other up on everything from traffic stops to family fights.
Wright said there are a few married couples who work for law enforcement agencies and some who are with the same departments, but he doesn't know any couples who actually work on the same assignments together.
"If we were married and looking for work, we'd never be hired by the same department. Married couples that work for the same department probably were on the job before they got married."
Wright joined the Woods Cross Police Department in 1976 as a reservist and was hired as a full-time police officer in 1980. His wife joined the police department as a reservist in 1981. She has been a full-time dispatcher with the Davis County Sheriff's Department since 1982.
They met on the job, started dating in 1985 and were married a year ago.
Mrs. Wright usually spends eight or more hours a week working as a Woods Cross police officer, usually with her husband. They take turns driving. When one of them makes a traffic stop and walks up to a driver, the other stands on the passenger side of the car as backup.
They team up on robberies, burglaries, family fights and all sorts of other calls. Wright said his wife, a good and trusted partner on any assignment, is especially valuable in family confrontations. "I often separate a husband and wife and find I have two angry people angry at me.
"When my wife is along, the woman has someone she can identify with, and Karen is great at soothing not only wives' but husbands' bad tempers."
Even on a traffic stop, Wright said, "having my wife along is great. A lot of men calm down and act a lot more civilized with a woman police officer present."
Mrs. Wright is the department's senior police reservist in terms of service, an expert pistol marksman and well-respected among all the department's officers. Chief Niles Stahle calls her a trusted, valued employee.
She was asked to go full-time with the department several years ago, she said, "but I like my job as a sheriff's dispatcher and, actually, make more money doing that than I would being a full-time police officer."
"I love police work, though. It's exciting, challenging and fun."
As one of 14 sheriff's dispatchers working in Farmington, Mrs. Wright trains new dispatchers and dispatches for fire departments, paramedics and many of the county's police agencies, including Woods Cross.
"I often have to dispatch my husband to crimes and accidents. I keep a professional voice, tone and manner, but inside I worry for him."
Both Wrights said police officers have few friends, not only because they are police but because of their odd hours and shifts. "Most of our friends are policemen," Wright said.
"My wife fits right in. My police friends are her police friends, too."
Wright said police, when they get together, often laugh at some of the most grisly ideas, "but it is only because we have suffered for a long time with grisly, sick, depressing things on the job."
Mrs. Wright said she has gotten sick twice at accidents, "but I didn't let anybody see me throw up. The worst thing about an accident is when people scream in pain. That gets to me."
Both Wrights grew up in Bountiful. He graduated from Viewmont High School in 1972, and she graduated from Bountiful High in 1974. They live in Bountiful and raise Labrador retrievers and have two quarter horses. They enjoy hunting, fishing and camping and traveling about the country together.
"No matter what happens on my job, I know my wife will understand what I have had to contend with," Wright said. "In police work, with as high a divorce rate as it has, having a buddy waiting at home for you is really great."