This year was the first time in my career, other than when I was going through boot camp at Parris Island, that I was working on Christmas Eve and Day.

It was difficult to say goodbye to my family Christmas morning as they headed out to New England to visit our extended family, exchange gifts and relax from the chaos of day-to-day life in the Garden State.

As I headed into the studio, I passed a police officer on the side of the road. All I could think of was how thankful I was to have spent so many holidays making the annual Christmas journey to see family and friends. And how many police officers spent those same holidays in their patrol cars, walking the streets or guarding inmates at one of New Jersey's prisons.

Law enforcement is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week commitment. That means there is no break. There is no down time for law enforcement. Even on Christmas Day, we learned of an elderly woman who was beaten by an intruder who decided to prey on the vulnerable early in the morning. Crime never takes a vacation and therefore the cops can't either.

When someone signs up to be a cop they know that they are sacrificing for the greater community and for their brothers and sisters in uniform. They know that the call of this special duty will have them away from family during some holidays.

How many dads missed the expression on a young kids face when he opened presents on Christmas morning? How many moms missed the sharing "seven fishes" on Christmas Eve with her husband and kids anticipating Santa's arrival? How many corrections officers barely knew it was Christmas from their posts behind the walls keeping order in our prisons? These men and women are the true face of heroes in our state and country.

Local law enforcement is always vigilant, always alert and yes, always on duty. There are very few careers a young person could choose that would guarantee the sacrifice of being separated from family so that others could be joined with their families in peace and security.

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.

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