Off Duty! Never: Thoughts, questions and tips on improving officer safety off duty

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by deputy Gage Donnell

Going to the store, movies or a restaurant can become exhausting when you are the guy with the gear.

Its not bad to be the cop that leaves the house off duty with everything shy of a grappling hook, but  are there ways to improve our loadout without needing pockets for pockets or a go bag built into our shirt?

When I go out, I usually have, at minimum, a firearm, knife and the usual keys wallet and phone. However some days will dictate, if it’s nice out and I want to wear some cargo pants or the threat level at a location I’m going to is higher, I usually don a little more. Extra mag, small flashlight and some type of less lethal tool.

It’s good to think about gear and how to place it so that it’s somewhat inconspicuous but first we must look at a few things.

Let me side step and point out that putting Thin Blue Line stickers on your car and wearing nothing but the latest and greatest in 5.11 isn’t really inconspicuous. In the Army you could pick out a private by the clothing: jeans, affliction shirt and his summer tan boots. That is the equivalent to the boot cop, tan 5.11 pants and a badge related shirt. Oh and don’t forget the right or left hip bulge.

So, back on track, what can we do to offset the ever-changing world of threats? First we must look at ourselves and then look outward at our family and what we can control within a 6 to 8 foot bubble.

How about our loadout? If we are going to the 7-11 we probably don’t need more than a weapon and a spare mag. Yes some will say “be ready for anything” but its just not applicable when you want to remain a Dog in Sheep’s wool.

If something breaks bad, we the defender are not sticking around to duke it out. We stop the threat and seek cover. Family and self come first. We must remember that just because we are armed doesn’t mean it’s the end all fix all.

Whenever you bring a gun into a store, parking lot or place of commons you have just placed a gun in play. Just remember that and you will have an edge in the OODA loop.

Next comes emergency action plans. Does your wife/husband or kids know what to do if mommy or daddy need to go to work? Rehearsing plans is a good way to ensure your focus is on the threat and not the family. It could be a safe word that means “go the other way” or a gesture that means “act like you don’t know me”. Then go out and spot check them, walk though a store and randomly drop the word and see how the family reacts. Then if you wish to upgrade and the spouse can handle it, look at team movements. What can we do to react to the threat and also ensure the lives of those around us?

Psychological preparation.

This is key. You might be prepared ’cause it’s your job but your wife or kids are not. We must explain that if something breaks bad, we must all be prepared for what is ahead. Explain that if you’re not in your jurisdiction, you all may be detained and questioned. This, and how to deal with the sight of death, is something hard to talk about but is a topic that should be discussed.

Gear.

Remember: the equipment you carry is something that could save your life or the life of your family. So yes, aim somewhat expensive. The quality may be better and thus last longer. Its not everyday you get into a incident, thus the equipment you use will sit and usually only be used in training and with a family can be little.

– Surefire makes some 6P series lights that are compact and durable. usually around $85.00 to $100.00

– Vexor MK3 from Zarc professionals makes a extremely strong OC spray at around 17.5 SHU and if you know what SHU means, you know that’s no joke $15.00

– Hornady Hollowpoint Critical Duty ammo, great for not over penetrating but has stopping power. usually around $25.99 – $32.99

– My new favorite for a carry knife is the Spyderco Roadie. Its a sheepfoot-style blade ground from Böhler-Uddeholm N690Co steel, a high-performance stainless steel alloyed with cobalt, molybdenum, and vanadium. Its not fixed blade but has a closed profile of 2.99″ and opens up to an aggressive 2.09″ blade making it ideal for quick deployment cuts. $79.95 MSRP

These are just some of my favorite carry tools and I hope this is a conversation that may shed some light. I plan on doing more reviews of the equipment on this list and if you have anything you need research for, please contact the admin.

 

Thanks for the time

10-8 in service