VALDOSTA – First-responders live a life on the frontline as problem-solvers and safe-guards. 

Beyond the uniform, they're husbands and wives. 

The first installment of Spouses On-Call details the lives of three wives who are married to law-enforcement members. 

Sgt. Josh and Laila Taylor, Georgia State Patrol

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoSgt. Josh Taylor, a state trooper, and his wife, Laila, have been married since June 17, 2006. 

A club meeting bonded high school sweethearts Josh and Laila Taylor. Married since June 17, 2006, they dated for four years. They're parents to Sawyer and Cooper Taylor.

“I knew that it was his dream to become a trooper, like his dad,” Laila Taylor said. “My dad was an OSI, Office of Special Investigation, which is like the FBI for the Air Force. I have been around law enforcement for my entire childhood so I was not intimidated.”

Josh Taylor first joined the Georgia State Patrol as a radio operator for two years before becoming a trooper in 2006. He has spent 15 years with GSP. 

The wife of an officer, Laila Taylor said it’s always been an honor to stand by her husband’s side as he serves the state.

Q: What makes you proud to be married to a first-responder?

"I am most proud of his selfless dedication to serve others. My husband is called to go in when everyone else is called to batten down the hatches and stay safe. Hurricanes, riots (and) fires are just some of the many examples of times when most families stay home and protect each other; however, we watch as he leaves to go into those same storms. I am so proud of my husband's drive and passion as a sergeant. His desire is to support and uphold his guys. There really is a Family of Blue."

Q: What makes you the most fearful?

"Not many wives can say that they watch their husbands put a bullet-proof vest (on) everyday to go to work. I have woken up before and saw his uniform in the corner of the bedroom, torn and with blood on it. Every missed call brings a pang of fear. However, I learned that the only one who could protect him was the Lord. Once I gave my husband's safety into the Lord's mighty and capable hands, I have been able to trust that he will be OK." 

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoLaila and Josh Taylor have two sons, Cooper and Sawyer Taylor. 

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of life with a first-responder?

"One of the difficult things of life with a trooper is probably the schedules. I plan everything without him, so that if he is able to make it, we are excited and not disappointed. We definitely make the most of each moment." 

Q: Is quality time with your husband ever interrupted due to a work emergency?

"Yes, there have been many missed events or holidays because of work. We have a family joke that before every vacation, Daddy will get called out. It happens almost every time." 

Q: What support do you provide to your spouse?

"I try my best to be a listening ear when he needs to talk. I believe that if the home is not settled and running smoothly, then he cannot be as safe on the road. When days are tough and his mind and body have been running a million miles an hour, I want our home to be his safe place where he can relax, take his head off the swivel and just be." 

Q: If you went back in time, would you do it all again and become the wife of a first-responder?

"If I could go back in time, I would choose him and our life together everyday. Life hasn't been perfect – we are two imperfect people – but we serve a perfect God and because of that, we are blessed." 

Cpl. Todd and Michelle Pitchford, Hahira Police Department

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoPolice Cpl. Todd Pitchford married his wife, Michelle, Nov. 29, 1997. 

After being married for nearly 22 years, Michelle Pitchford can still recall what her husband wore the day they first met in a Valdosta State University criminal justice class. Todd Pitchford sported a purple and black raincoat.

“(He wore) a baseball cap pulled down to cover the knot on his head from a bar fight when he tried to break it up,” Michelle Pitchford said. “A guy cracked him on his forehead with a beer bottle. I saw him and thought, well, this is going to be a good class.”

They were married Nov. 29, 1997, and through the years, became parents to daughters Julia and Ellison.

Serving in other local departments, Todd Pitchford has been a policeman for 24 years. 

Q: Describe your reaction when you learned Cpl. Pitchford was an officer.

"I really didn’t have a reaction because I wanted to be a police officer myself. So he got me an application, I got hired at Valdosta Police Department, and we started to date ... and about after nine months, I realized, I don’t really enjoy (being an officer). To continue dating him because I wanted to marry him, I quit because he really loved his job."

Q: What makes you the proudest to be married to a first-responder?

"When someone comes up to me and tells me how my husband has changed their life for the better. He was the wake-up call that they needed."

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoMichelle Pitchford provides support to her husband, Cpl. Todd Pitchford of the Hahira Police Department.

Q: What makes you the most fearful?

"How society automatically thinks the worst of police officers and a lot more people are targeting them. … It seems everyone is quick to judge all police officers by the bad ones. I definitely have encountered more police officers willing to help someone than to cause hurt." 

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of life with a first-responder?

"When something bad happens, my husband getting called out instead of being able to stay at home with his family. He has never been at home when the hurricane winds were supposed to hit us. As a police officer, you are always on duty. You generally sleep at a designated place so you will be able to get out quickly in case you are needed. The last storm we had, there were two trees down on our road and a great neighbor drove down the road on his tractor and cut the trees so he could get home." 

Q: How do the two of you manage schedules and family time? 

"When the girls were little, it was very hard because I had a job from 8-6 Monday through Friday. His normal hours on the drug squad were 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. He had courts on Monday. When you planned vacations, you prayed that court was not going to fall during that time or the case would get continued. Luckily, it always worked out. Now I am a real estate agent so my hours are somewhat flexible. When he’s off, and if I’m showing houses, he drives me around." 

Q: What support do you provide to your spouse?

"The main way I support him is listening to him when he has a long hard day. Sometimes, which is more often than not, I do offer my opinion even if he does not ask for it. When he has had an extra long work week, I do things around the house that he usually does to give him a break. I knew when I married him that he loved his job and I would never ask him to quit unless it affected his health. Being married to a police officer is tough on the spouse and there were times that I did not know if we would make it. You definitely cannot demand all the attention all the time or your marriage will not last. You have to be willing to come second or third some of the time. If I could go back and do it over, there is no one else that I would want by my side than Todd." 

Sheriff Ashley and Ginger Paulk, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoLowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk and his wife, Ginger, were married Aug. 6, 1967. 

Ginger Paulk was 10 when she met her husband at her cousin’s horseback riding birthday party in 1958. He was 13.

Waiting until Ginger Paulk was at least 19, the two married Aug. 6, 1967. They share five children and 25 grandchildren. 

When she first heard her husband would run for county sheriff, Ginger Paulk said she was surprised, shocked and "somewhat perplexed."

"But when I fully understood his reason for running, I was on board," she said. 

She supports her husband 110 percent, she said, adding he was called to be sheriff. 

Ashley Paulk is currently in his fifth term and has served 19 years as sheriff. 

Q: What makes you the proudest to be married to a first-responder?

"When I hear from anybody that he helped somebody. God has allowed him to be in a position where he can help people."

Q: What makes you the most fearful about being married to someone in law enforcement?

"I’m not really fearful but I am greatly concerned for the safety and the well-being of every single person that works with him – not for him, but with him. I’m concerned because he’s concerned. There are hundreds of decisions made daily. Every deputy, every jailer, every secretary; there are just decisions after decisions on them." 

Backing the Blue: Police wives give inside look at life in law enforcement

Submitted PhotoGinger Paulk has supported her husband, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk, through 19 years of law enforcement. 

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of life with a first-responder?

"I have difficulty with the sheer number of them (the sheriff’s staff), 260 people. Every single one of them is important to him, so they’re important to me and they are like a big family. ... I can’t even remember their names … He cares so much about them, I want to remember. ... It’s an extended family of people that are a concern to him so of course they’re a concern to me. … I just can’t grasp it all. I want to be a part of what he does but it’s just too deep."

Q: How do the two of you manage schedules and family time?

"We don’t always manage schedules well. ... He’s up at 4:30 now, gone by 5; so we do not morning together because he leaves very early. But he’s always home for supper every night. It may be late ... but we do sit down and have supper together. He’s very good about calling sometimes just to say, if you’re in town, let’s grab lunch. ... Birthdays and anniversaries, no sheriff anything interrupts. We’re going to celebrate birthdays and we’re going to celebrate an anniversary. It may not be what other people do on birthdays and anniversaries but we celebrate."

Q: How often are you interrupted because of a work emergency?

"He is an interruption. The radio is beside him as we watch TV at night, phone’s ringing, and I just learned to live with it." 

Q: What support do you provide to your spouse?

"I’ll listen to him, try to sympathize where he needs sympathy. Counsel when I think I need to. Sometimes, he takes it, and sometimes, not."

Q: If you had to do it all again, would you be with Sheriff Paulk while he’s in law enforcement?

"Absolutely. I do believe with all of my heart that he was called to run. When you’re doing what God has called you to do, you just do it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Now, you would do it as God would have you do it and bring glory to Him … When you’re doing God’s will, just do it." 

Spouses On-Call is a weekly November series focusing on life being married to a first-responder. Next week comes a glimpse into the lives of firefighter spouses. 

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