It was a drag. I was working recently rehabbing a property my wife and I own in the city, getting it ready for rental. I was off-duty painting, cleaning gutters and the like and wearing a pistol. It was not convenient, I got dust from sanding a wall on my handgun but I was still going to wear it. Day in, day out – trips to our rental, trips to the hardware store for whatever we needed – I carried an off-duty pistol and at times it was a bother: getting home from work, changing clothes and gearing up with my Raven Concealment Systems: Phantom Modular Holster and my Glock 19 as well as a spare mag carried in a Bianchi belt scabbard and heading out the door. It was a drag but like always, I got over it. The alternative was to not carry and that was/is simply unacceptable. I will not place my wife, daughters, sons or grandchildren or my safety in the cold hands of fate. It is simply not going to happen…ever.
From the time I was a young boy I have witnessed violent people commit violent acts. I saw my first police shooting when I was a pup on a summer day. I saw my first stabbing a few years later and in between and since have witnessed untold number of assaults including being assaulted myself. All of this before I ever went to high school. Events and the people we meet help shape us and it certainly is true that I knew violent people existed and began training for them years before I was 18 and started working security at a concert facility during college. Several years of the security business before I was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff cemented my feeling that bad things happened to good people.
And that’s Rule #1: Bad things can and do happen to good people.
Rule #2: Bad things happen when you least expect it.
Rule #3: You better be ready: physically, mentally, armed and skilled when bad things happen.
These rules are based on hard life lessons that I’ve learned from witnessing and experiencing violence on and off-duty over a long career. We can morph them into a winning strategy for off-duty incidents.
Lessons Learned / Strategies
One of my favorite writers as a new law enforcement officer and for years after was Evan Marshall. Evan is now a retired sergeant from the Detroit Police Department who has had tremendous street and off-duty experiences (I believe 11 armed encounters) and had a style of relating those to the reader that I found contained a tremendous amount of common sense and worked on the street. Sgt. Marshall had a number of armed encounters off-duty in the Motor City. He carried everywhere (even before the days of HB218 by the way) and although he recommended against intervention off-duty, sometimes he was a feces magnet and would not be found unarmed (at least two guns by the way). Since Evan’s writings influenced me, I’ll give him credit and pass the legacy along to you.