Force Multiplier: Off-Duty Carry

Off-duty officers who carry firearms are not just protecting themselves; they are protecting the public.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

POLICE Magazine Editor David GriffithPOLICE Magazine Editor David GriffithPhoto: Kelly Bracken

Last month New Jersey's governor signed a law that banned all pistol and rifle magazines of more than 10 rounds. Which means officers need new magazines to carry their duty weapons off duty or even just to drive them back and forth to work. A bill has been introduced that would amend the law to exempt officers.

Still, some gun control advocates would love to prevent cops from carrying off duty, and this may be the first shot in that campaign. Such a movement would be moronic. Disarming off-duty officers does nothing but make the officers, their families, and the public at large less safe.

We have the evidence to prove it. In December we conducted a survey of POLICE readers about backup guns and off-duty carry. One of the questions on that survey asked officers if they have ever had to draw their off-duty weapons outside of training. We also asked for the stories of what happened.

Here are some of those stories with some commentary from me:

I was driving down the freeway when the window was shot out of my vehicle. I was able to locate the suspects and detained them until the highway patrol arrived.

It sounds like these suspects were randomly shooting at people on the highway, which could have easily led to a murder and a massive pile-up.

A gang of five white men had surrounded a young black man in a mall and were beating him. I drew, stepped up, put the five thugs on the floor, and held them for on-duty officers.

The victim of this mob attack is very fortunate this officer was carrying and the mall allowed him to do so. There's a lesson in that for sports and concert venues that force off-duty officers to disarm.

Off duty inside a bar. A patron was ejected and threatened to come back with a gun. He did just that. I drew my weapon, identified myself, and ordered him to drop the gun. He didn't. I shot him and he died.

The officer in this story may well have prevented a mass killing.

Two subjects shooting at each other in a business parking lot next to my location. No other people in parking lot. No one was hit. Did not use my handgun, but I drew it to protect people behind me. When on-duty officers arrived, I was a good witness.

An off-duty officer needs to know when to engage and when to be a good witness.

But sometimes there is no option.

I was drawn into an armed bank robbery and hostage situation while off duty and exchanged fire with the perpetrator.

Off-duty officers are a force multiplier in the communities where they live. They save lives and prevent innocent people from becoming victims.

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"What Does Your Tech Do?" is a new department that grew out of our experiences at trade shows. We sometimes walk away from meetings with technology companies asking ourselves, "OK. But what does your product actually do?" We plan to give law enforcement tech companies a chance to answer that question for you.

POLICE is entering its forty-third year of publication. So we thought it would be interesting to dig into our past and show some of it to you. Check out our "Looking Back" department.

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