If you're a single officer, this may be a mundane article, but for those of you who have spouses, significant others and kiddies, please read it. Coppers tend to forget that when it comes to safety, you are never off-duty. There have been near tragedies and tragic stories; let's get up to speed to avoid future ones.
I know of some officers who have very strict weapon protocols for security and storage in their abodes. I commend you! However, if you've ever been a parent, there's nothing that's childproof. Next time you need to open a childproof anything, get the neighbor's kid to come over and open it up, it is a reality of life.
I'm not trying to promote all to purchase fireproof and nuclear ground zero proof safes but it all starts with a routine and practice. Now, several agencies have recommended procedures for securing their issued weapons. Your academy or range master will have suggested procedures for firearms and other instrument safety. Confer with them for their recommendations and suggestions; they are your local experts. Don't forget the OC spray, electric control devices, utility knives and portable radios.
Once you have your safety plan adopted, stick to it and follow it religiously. You lay down for a power nap prior to a night shift. You've left the service weapon out and little inquisitive eyes take a gander. We could have a tragedy.
Follow your safety rules, no exceptions. This is also a tactical advantage for the home defense. If you have the weapons placed where you know they should be, you'll be prepared — no frantic searching for a weapon. If things go bump in the night, you'll instinctively know where to grab and how to respond.
Whether you have a safe and secure place, utilize gun locks, safe boxes or hidden compartments, you must have the family meeting. You need to tell each and every dweller with you the rules and allow no compromise. A special note for parents — as your wee ones mature, you may have to meet repeatedly for their interests and self-discipline can change or waiver. Make certain you have house rules.
Another added bonus is to have your spouse/significant other take a firearm safety course. Some may dislike weapons, but training will reduce their paranoia. They don't have to learn to shoot if they don't want to (although shooting is a great family pastime in the Harvey house). Just their knowing how to pick up and secure something will ease their minds and give them respect for the safety you desire.
The safety training and family chats will also ease their minds when you carry off-duty. I know of some spouses and significant others who experience a certain uneasiness when they're around off-duty carry. Knowledge is power in overcoming this stressor.
I've often said that any time you're issued a bullet launcher to propel projectiles at bad guys, you have a problem. Additionally, if you have to strap on a ballistic vest to repel the projectiles that bad guys hurl back at you, there are more problems.
Therefore, don't complicate your family life with sloppy weapon safety at home. Get a plan, train on it, stick to it and all will be safer for it.