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Off-Duty Policing: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Off-Duty Policing: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Dr. Richard Weinblatt, “The Cop Doc”

While crime has gone down, according to published crime statistics, incidents involving assaults and worse on crime fighters are still prevalent. Luckily, in the face of all the danger, law enforcers have not backed down and continue to honor their oath and their mission. But what of incidents that occur when you are off duty. The question comes up regarding off-duty policing: should you or shouldn’t you step in and save the day?

This article covers a topic that I have spoken about numerous times with many law enforcers; especially those that are new to the cop career. This is useful stuff to ponder, especially if you’re a newbie, and a great reminder for the veterans.

Officers, deputy sheriffs, and state troopers are by their nature type A, take charge type of personalities. The police run forward when all others run away. While that is admirable courage and honor are traits needed to be an effective an honorable keeper of the law enforcement flame it does no good to make the situation worse. Sacrifice with no appreciable gain is not what other law enforcers and family members want to see.

When deciding whether to intervene, here are some items to consider.

1) Need. Ask yourself is it necessary for you to intervene at that moment. Do you hear sirens in the distance that indicate that uniformed, on duty officers or deputies are about to arrive and take control of the situation. Does it appear that the bad guy or guys are about to leave the vicinity and that the threat to people has dissipated.

Officers and deputies newer to the career should really take heed of this one. Rookie officers have long been known to be more eager to get involved than veterans. Additionally, they often do so before they have the requisite experience to determine the real need, as well as the ability to use that not yet garnered valuable experience to guide them through the crisis.

With the advanced training and experience that law enforcement folks get, consider being the world’s most proficient witness. As a trained observer, you may be more valuable to the investigation and the successful, safe apprehension of the individuals in a time, place, and manner when the good guys are in control.

2) Authority. Be sure of your states laws and agency’s policies regarding off-duty intervention. Some agencies do not allow their officers to have their firearm on them off-duty. Others only grant them police powers while within their employing department’s geographical jurisdiction.

If you are travelling out of your area, be familiar with that jurisdiction’s stance on off-duty officers carrying concealed weapons and acting under color of law. That is especially true if you are out of state.

Despite the laws and police customs that favor officers carrying firearms on their person around the nation, some jurisdictions have been known to hassle and even criminally charge out of state officers.

3) Equipment. If you do decide to intervene, do you have the tools of the trade that may help you to do the job at hand batter and more safely. On duty officers have all the benefits of being fully equipped: the uniform, bullet resistant vest (I hate the term bulletproof – it does not make a superman where bullets bounce off your chest), semi-automatic firearm, extra high capacity magazines, extra firearms and long weapons, intermediate weaponry, radio communications, backup, and marked unit with emergency lighting. That gives them some advantages that they would not otherwise have.

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  • Police_link_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Witness........................ 98%

  • Native_clip_art_4_049_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Excellent article

  • M-16_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great Article. Unfortunately though sometimes officers are put into situations which they can't just ignore. Like then following article.
    this guy did everything by the book I wouldn't have done anything different and now he is on trial for Murder.

  • Imag0190_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Very good article. Being an Officer in a smaller department, I am often required to become "On-Duty" at anytime. Some of our citizens, a little while ago, voiced concern of the Off-Duty Officer who was carrying and had a pair of handcuffs on him at the Grocery Store or Post Office. It's actually been a godsend in the form of proactive law enforcement, because it's stopped several potential shoplifting and vandalism reports.

  • Thinker_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Very good article with some outstanding points. When I started out I was all-out 24/7. Through the years and with gained wisdom I've learned to restrict myself to being a good observer and calling in what I see. I've seen a lot of cops get in trouble for off-duty actions both in getting personally injured and in civil and departmental actions afterwards. Unless it is a violent felony or someone is getting seriously hurt, I do not intervene except to call 911...

  • Img_0103_max50


    over 4 years ago


    But I am of the "Old school " law-enforcement mind set, I carry 24-7...365 days a a year..!!!!!

  • Img_0103_max50


    over 4 years ago


    "Bump" cdc463

    I know first hand how getting involved can be both a blessing and a curse. Having "been there" and "done that" has tought me to proceed with much caution and wisdom.

  • American_first_responder2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Excellent article filled with food for thought; BUMP uncledennis1 words are the best choice in this situation!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Be an expert witness is best in my book. However, I have gone through with my family if I do intervene. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance!

  • White_shirt_max50


    over 4 years ago


    My feeling have always been call on duty personnel and be a good witness.

  • P23-2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Another good article by the good Dr

  • Img_2492_1___2__max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great artical! Great witness to the crime is prob the best, unless someones life is in immediate danger! Just making sure you are identified as an LEO, those tragic srtories of LEO's losing their lives by fellow LEO's is so sad. Be safe!! thanks for the artical!

  • 580270_10150746332203468_504183467_9096624_481960616_n_max50


    over 4 years ago



  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I believe that a cop is never really off duty...... However, this story is one to ponder

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Excellent article. If you are out of your jurisdiction it's best to be a a healthy witness if you have that option available.

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