FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Careers

Off-Duty Carry: What Kind of Cop Are You?

Which of these three categories do you fall into when it comes to off-duty carry?

March 07, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author


Would you carry if you visited Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York City, while you were off duty? Photo via Flickr.com (moriza).

Where and when to carry off-duty is a debate between cops that has gone back and forth for generations. I know what I've done and will continue to do. Let's review the three kinds of cops so you can pick the category that suits you best.

"I'm a cop for eight hours."

How many of you know a cop that proclaims this and lives this way? They don't even own a gun; the issued sidearm stays in the locker when not on-duty. They don't get emotionally involved, and this is a paycheck to them. Known many of these through the years. Many are good producers and will do what they have to do to keep the job and stay in their comfort zones. Some even say, "If they want me to walk around ready to respond, they will pay me for it." Nothing wrong here but this is a measure on one end of the spectrum.

Hot-and-cold cops

Sometimes they carry off-duty, and sometimes they don't. They carry off-duty when they feel there's a higher threat level. This may fit the mold of many officers. At a family cookout or local event, there's no need to carry. If they're just running errands around the town or doing some shopping, no need to pack heat, right? If they're that good at predicting criminal events, they should be working in the intelligence office rather than on patrol. Many will do the right thing; there will be that one time they'll be unable to respond. They will have to live with themselves and the personal aftermath.

Warrior cops who carry off-duty

If you pick up a writer's slant, you'll guess the category I fall into. For my entire career, I've carried off-duty the vast majority of the time (exceptions include the gym, beach, and jogging). I've intervened on bad guys while off-duty and backed up other officers.

This is a force multiplier for the area you live in. Face it, most people know you're a cop. Many of you have had people come up to you for questions or support while you were shopping. Here you can assist and protect your family or others if the need arises. I've never said to go out on patrol, nor seek trouble while off duty. You should make a prudent decision, if you're outnumbered or face overwhelming odds, to be a professional witness. You can always step in and be the protector.

Another point of debate is for those officers that plaster their cars with thin blue-line stickers, cop bumper stickers, and other law enforcement stuff. They wear cop T-shirts as off-duty attire. If you advertise you're a cop, prepare to be one at a moment's notice. Especially, if your loved ones are there, could you protect them?

I get criticism from some for advocating this position. So be it. I know I carry this vocation as an honor. To walk as a warrior calls for the tools and mindset. So when you see me with my shoulder pack, it's not a diaper bag. Know I have your back.


Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine