Off-Duty Cop

Hard won lessons and strategies for the part of your day before or after your shift and on your days off.

  • Don’t leave your awareness and mental edge in the locker at the end of your tour. Heck a recent shooting in my city resulted in bullets flying into the parking deck where the nightshifts park. I had just walked out of the deck and into the station a couple of minutes before. Mopes are mopes 24/7 even though you’re only a cop eight to 12 hours on shift. The mental edge that serves you so well on-shift must work for you off-duty as well.
  • Don’t go to risky places off-duty. Seems simple but if the business or area is dangerous, avoid it. Trendy bars, strip clubs, motorcycle rallies, etc all attract a drunken, drugged and at times violent crowd. Sure it’s your right to live a “non-cop” life off-duty just don’t expose yourself to greater risk if you have a choice.
  • Avoid getting involved in off-duty incidents – if at all possible. Alone or with your family avoid getting involved or revealing your police status. If the situation is deteriorating and violence is occurring or imminent you may have to intervene but otherwise be the best witness you can be.
  • Carry your off-duty pistol and at least one reload. I said pistol for a reason, a five-shot revolver is not enough gun. Snubbies are great for back-up but not as your primary armament.
  • Carry enough gun. Avoid .380’s or smaller calibers. Sure they’re small, light and “cute” but seldom have the ballistic potential to stop an aggressive assault against you or another.
  • Carry a less-lethal option. You’re more likely to need some form of non-deadly force than you are a pistol. Sure, I know you’re a master grappler or a former golden gloves boxer but doesn’t it make more sense to spray them from nine feet away with pepper spray or “Taz em” with your C2 Taser than get into an exchange of fisticuffs?
  • Talk to your significant other and family about what you’ll be doing and what they should be doing in the event of pending or occurring violence. Sticking with you when bullets are flying in your direction may not be the thing to do.
  • Give your wife, husband or kids a communication plan on how to summon aid to you. These include: your LE status, your description, the fact you’re armed and what the situation is.
  • Transfer that street knowledge and violence avoidance to your family members. My college aged daughter is more at risk in today’s world than I am and I’ve tried to prepare her accordingly.

Are these Earth shaking recommendations and strategies? Not even close but Marshall’s writings and recommendations of 25 years ago weren’t either, they were just easy to follow and common sense tips from someone who had been there and “gotten a drawer full of t-shirts” in the process. I’ve tried to thank my life mentors and had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to thank Evan Marshall – an old Detroit street cop and sergeant – for his contribution to saving my bacon and my student’s bacon on and off-duty. My t-shirt drawer may not be quite as full but it includes incidents in plainclothes and off-duty.

The difference between us and the animals is that we can learn from someone else’s mistakes or lessons. Some of these lessons have been paid for with the blood of good cops. Heed and follow them.   On or off-duty you’re a cop and it really is dangerous out there…


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About The Author:

Kevin Davis is a full-time officer assigned to the training bureau where he specializes in use of force, firearms and tactical training. With over 23 years in law enforcement, his previous experience includes patrol, corrections, narcotics and he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency's SWAT team with over 500 call-outs in tactical operations.

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