Police Rethink 'Always Armed' Policy

Police Rethink 'Always Armed' Policy

This is a discussion on Police Rethink 'Always Armed' Policy within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Came across this article. Now if I am reading this correctly, in 18 years 43 officers have died of "friendly fire". Of that group only ...

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Thread: Police Rethink 'Always Armed' Policy

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array havegunjoe's Avatar
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    Police Rethink 'Always Armed' Policy

    Came across this article. Now if I am reading this correctly, in 18 years 43 officers have died of "friendly fire". Of that group only a "handful", (define handful), were shot by fellow officers and the IACP wants to scrap the tradition. I hate knee-jerk reactions like this. I would not want to be an LEO off duty and unarmed to face some potential treat from someone I arrested in the past.

    What do you fellow CCW folks think?

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- An old police tradition of requiring off-duty officers to carry their weapons "always armed, always on duty" is being scaled back in police departments nationwide, increasingly being blamed for the deaths of officers shot by colleagues who thought they were criminals.

    The policy requires officers to respond to crimes even when they're not on duty. Supporters also say that letting officers carry their guns off-duty protects them from crooks bent on revenge.

    But critics point to the shooting of officers in Providence, R.I., Orlando, Fla., Oakland, Calif. and elsewhere.

    The policy is at the center of a $20 million civil rights lawsuit being heard this month in Providence, where Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. was killed in 2000 while he was off duty and trying to break up a fight. He was dressed in baggy jeans, an overcoat and a baseball cap, and carrying a gun.

    "Our situation is the extreme example of what can go wrong," said Sgt. Robert Paniccia, president of the Providence police union.

    Young's mother, Leisa Young, says the rookie officer who shot him was not adequately trained to recognize off-duty or plainclothes officers.

    The International Association of Chiefs of Police has called "always on duty" policies a costly tradition. The group, which has more than 20,000 members, recommends that off-duty officers who witness a crime call for assistance rather than pulling a weapon.

    According to the FBI, 43 police officers have been killed since 1987 by friendly fire. Some were caught in crossfire, or killed by firearms mishaps. A handful, like Young, were mistaken for criminals and shot by fellow officers.

    This year, an Orlando, Fla., police officer killed a man who had fired a gun outside the Citrus Bowl. The victim was a plainclothes officer working for the University of Central Florida. In 2001, two uniformed officers shot and killed an undercover detective when he trained his gun on a suspected car thief in Oakland, Calif.

    In 1994, an off-duty police officer in New York City shot an undercover transit officer eight times in the chest. The transit officer survived.

    In Providence, carrying a gun is now optional for off-duty officers, who are encouraged instead to be good witnesses if they see a crime, said Paniccia. The police union in Washington, D.C., won a similar concession after three off-duty officers were killed in separate incidents, said Officer Gregory Greene, the union's chairman.

    The Los Angeles Police Department allows its officers to carry their weapons off duty, but doesn't require it, department spokeswoman April Harding said.

    David Klinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, formerly worked as a Los Angeles police officer and said he usually carried a gun off duty. If police officers are properly trained, officers should have the option of carrying a gun for their own protection, he said.

    "I don't want to be driving through the ghetto without a gun," he said. "What if some knucklehead I arrested spots me?"

    Threatened officers instinctively focus on the perceived threat and tune out other information that could be crucial to split-second decision making, Klinger said. That's why it's important to have protocols in place to identify each other, he said.

    "If an officer has this tunnel vision, and all he sees is the gun, he may not see the badge hanging on the detective's chest," Klinger said.

    New York City officers now use standard challenges and responses to prevent friendly fire accidents, said James Fyfe, the department's former deputy commissioner for training. Fyfe died of cancer this month, shortly after testifying by videotape at the Young trial.

    He said every time New York officers confront an armed suspect, they are trained to yell "Police, don't move!" Off-duty and plainclothes officers are told to respond "I'm on the job!" and to never turn their hand or gun toward a uniformed colleague.

    "Unless police officers are trained, they do stupid things on both sides of the coin," Fyfe said.
    DEMOCRACY IS TWO WOLVES AND A LAMB VOTING ON WHAT TO HAVE FOR LUNCH. LIBERTY IS A WELL ARMED LAMB CONtestING THE VOTE.

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    My immediate counter argument is that now all police officers must wear uniforms. Because detectives and such don't currently wear uniforms. So they have the same risk of being armed and being shot. This should also include undercover officers, because after all they are armed and currently dress however they need to dress to be undercover. Of course they face the same risks of being shot because they are not in uniform.

    I suppose the chiefs would just simply disarm anyone not in uniform. Another brilliant idea.

    BTW Fyfe is quoted in the article. That is just too funny. The poor guy has probably heard it every day since he started the application process to become a cop.

    -Scott-

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    How many officers were shot in uniform by friendly fire? While my dept. didn't require response or always to carry, I know of 1 incident that the off duty officer was glad to have his pistol. Disarming folks isn't the issue, better policy would be more situational training for officers. Still, accidents will happen,law enforcement is a dangerous job.

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    My department leaves it up to the individual officer as whether or not to carry off duty.

    The best thing for an off duty officer to do when witnessing a crime in progress is to be a good witness. I've called in things when off duty, but I won't intervene unless it is life or death. Responding off duty generally means responding without communication with other officers and without body armor. It also increases the chance of misidentification by perps and responding officers.
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    Senior Member Array BlueLion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CombatEffective
    My department leaves it up to the individual officer as whether or not to carry off duty.

    The best thing for an off duty officer to do when witnessing a crime in progress is to be a good witness. I've called in things when off duty, but I won't intervene unless it is life or death. Responding off duty generally means responding without communication with other officers and without body armor. It also increases the chance of misidentification by perps and responding officers.

    +1 my thoughts exactly...
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    Saw this on another forum I frequent. It's a shame. I hope they "rethink" it.

    -Erik

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    This needs re thought - considerably.

    Scott's mention re undercover, plain clothes etc is more than valid - best thing would be to discourage active intervention, except in extreme circumstances - remove if you will any ''obligation'' to act as uniformed cop - when not on duty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CombatEffective
    My department leaves it up to the individual officer as whether or not to carry off duty.

    The best thing for an off duty officer to do when witnessing a crime in progress is to be a good witness. I've called in things when off duty, but I won't intervene unless it is life or death. Responding off duty generally means responding without communication with other officers and without body armor. It also increases the chance of misidentification by perps and responding officers.
    +2.....I'm authorized to and carry off-duty, but my agency does not require it.
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    My department leaves it up to the individual officer as whether or not to carry off duty.
    Same here...although it is highly recommended.

    The advantage of living in a small community is that the cops usually know each other..at least here pretty much every one is familar with who works wear as we are pretty closely intertwined in various ways.

    Even so, one must be very careful. We are encouraged to be good witnesses, an usually will ony act in life or death situations...unless specifically requested to assist by a uniformed officer...and this has happened on occassion. This is always followed by radio traffic that informs dispatch that we are 10-8 or on duty in case someone gets hurt.


    Even so...it can be very difficult for a cop to stand by and do nothing...ecspecially in an escalated use of force situation... cause it just aint natural.

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    Havegunjoe,

    I'm not a LEO, but as a private citizen I appreciate the fact that there are off-duty LEO's in our midst. I certainly respect the choice an off-duty LEO makes regarding what level of crime intervention to pursue, but hope that intervention to STOP the crime would always be their choice. I would hope that PD's never stop off-duty LEO's from carrying 24/7, and if it's an option for them, that the off-duty LEO's would choose to carry for their/our safety.
    noli nothis permittere te terere...

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    The article intentionally mixes in shootings of undercover, plainclothes and off-duty officers for the purpose of obfuscating the real purpose which is to move a step closer to removing guns from society. IMHO
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    VIP Member Array havegunjoe's Avatar
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    You have a good point there XD40. Many anti-gunners like to mix and match their statistics any way they can to promote their point of view. I too hope that LEO's will always choose to act to protect the public when off duty. I hope the hierarchy never changes that.
    DEMOCRACY IS TWO WOLVES AND A LAMB VOTING ON WHAT TO HAVE FOR LUNCH. LIBERTY IS A WELL ARMED LAMB CONtestING THE VOTE.

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    The International Association of Chiefs of Police has been anti-gun as long as I can remember. They're usually pretty quick to air their opinion whenever a CCW for ordinary citizens comes up. I guess that's not enough, now they want to disarm off-duty LEO's. It doesn't surprise me a bit.

    The stats were interesting. Those LEO's shot when 'caught in a crossfire' or in 'weapons incidents' are lumped together with the "handful" of plainclothes victims. The Anti's, no matter who they are, always manage to massage the numbers to support their misguided claims. Their lack of integrity should, in and of itself, be sufficient reason to question their motives.

    I wonder how many off-duty LEO's died in auto accidents during the same time period. Perhaps the Boys in Blue shouldn't drive when not in uniform?

    There is no question that there needs to be training for off-duty carry (Massad Ayoob has a good video on the topic - it largely applies to civilian CCW as well). As many shoot/no-shoot training scenaria illustrate, it can be easy to confuse the good guy with the bad guy, and it pays to do anything you can to ensure that you, as an armed citizen or off-duty LEO, are not perceived to be the bad guy.

    Back to the politics of the issue, I think that it is interesting that off-duty carry was presented as a "tradition," as if it is of little value in today's world. The Anti's may be misguided, but they aren't dumb.

    SSKC

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    There are "reasons" and there are "excuses". The excuse is what you give to sell the idea when you know the reason won't fly. Saving officers lives is what they tell you because they don't want to say that it's one step in the total disarmament of the people of the United States. Police chiefs are political animals who are in the pockets of the politicians and the IACP is in the pocket of Sara and her Million Toadies ("12 shots through a cops vest as fast as you can say 'NRA'" was the headline on the poster on the wall of her booth at the last IACP convention I attended).

    Remember when they were discussing the federal law allowing cops to carry nationwide? One of her arguments was that having all those guns out there would cause blood to run in the streets.

    (Actually, I'd like to see that in the non-shall-issue states, just to remind the cops there what it's like to be one of the sheep. Perhaps then they would be more vocal in their support for us.)
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    I would leave it all up to the individual officers as to if they want to arm themselves off duty (or not) and they should also be allowed to make their own determination...per each individual situation...as to if it would be best to get directly involved or just witness.
    Just my opinion for what it's worth.
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