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A Date with Destiny - Part III

Lt. Dan Marcou / PATC

On Duty Tactics

Officers responding to a call of an active shooter must realize they have been thrust into a position that calls for decisive action and what they decide to do can save lives and minimize casualties.

Training can help prepare the first responding officers for the moment they arrive at the scene of such an incident. This is a dire situation and that may result in casualties. A key decision has to be made instantaneously on whether to contain and await other units or move to contact, because defenseless citizens that officers are sworn to protect are dying with each shot.

When the first responding officers arrive they should remember to use long guns for long halls. Officers should choose to put superior fire power into their hands. Breathe and try to control the heart rate on the approach as you use your radio on the move, directing additional units en route and notifying others of the actions that are being taken.

Do not throw lives away, breathe, think, advance, using the chaos as a diversion. Officers may have to pass wounded, conduct quick interviews on the move and encourage direct fleeing individuals to continue their flight, while advancing on the shooter.

Gather as much information as possible and then attempt to move to a position of advantage that affords a field of vision, clear shot and cover if at all possible. Attempt to do this without alerting the suspect.

Quickly assess the actions of the suspect and if he is in the act of shooting, and endangering innocents of death and or great bodily harm, need not advise warn or request. Take and make the shot. The officer should then break up his/her tunnel vision and look for additional shooters. The officer should communicate his/her location and actions and reload in the lull. This should be done while covering the downed suspect. Secure the suspect and assess his condition.

Off Duty Tactics

As you read this you either carry off duty or you do not. If you carry off duty ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I carry a weapon and holster I have trained with?
  • Do I have a way to identify myself as a police officer?
  • Do I have a way to secure a suspect I have arrested off duty?
  • Do I have a way to communicate off duty?
  • Do I have reload capability?
  • Have I participated in hands on “Active Shooter Response” training?
  • Have I read and digested my agency’s off duty policy and deadly force policy?

If you answered no to any of these questions you need to take some kind of action to answer yes.

If you do not carry off-duty, take the time to ask the following:

  • Should I carry off duty in a post 9-11, post Columbine world?
  • If someone was shooting in my child’s school would I take action armed or not?
  • Do I possess empty hand deadly force options for the worst case scenario?
  • If I were about to be shot by an active shooter, would I refuse to go quietly into the night?

The Law

Due to changes in the federal law it is much easier for officers to carry concealed weapons off duty. Retired officers can also carry off duty, when they have received proper training and carry identification with departmental authorization. Officers should check their local policies and procedures, before arming themselves. Many agencies do not allow officers, who are retired to carry concealed weapons out of concerns for liability. Administrators should ask themselves if this is prudent in today’s world.


Clearly this nation has not seen the last mindless homicidal act. It is a very real possibility that any police officer, on duty or off, regardless of their department size, rank, shift, or assignment might be faced with a suspect laying down a withering fire at innocent men women and children. These heartless killers might be a threat to you, your family, or the people you are sworn to protect.

The location of your date with destiny might be a mall, a church, a court room, a school, a hotel, or even a police station. Prepare!

Part: 1, 2, 3

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