Law Enforcement Officer Off-Duty Incident Response
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my law enforcement friends. I want to talk about the decision to act or just be a good witness during an off-duty situation.
Determine whether there is an immediate need to prevent serious injury or death before you decide to insert yourself into a situation.
Each day we work we face dangers while on-duty. We wear our uniform, body armor, other safety equipment, and carry a radio. We rely on officer safety training and tactics, like proper positioning of our patrol vehicles during a traffic stop. Or advising dispatch of our location to increase safety.
But, during off-duty situations, the dangers increase. Dramtically. Particularly in armed encounters. Regardless of how well we may be trained, we begin with a disadvantage by being out of uniform. Nobody knows who we are. We lack body armor, equipment, and don’t have a radio to call for backup. It’s also important to remember that some states have statutes prohibiting off-duty officers from responding to crimes in progress. Use wisdom and discretion. Please. Determine whether there is an immediate need to prevent serious injury or death before you decide to insert yourself into a situation.
Once the decision to be a good witness is made, call 911. Personal safety remains a priority. Move to a safe place. Take video, photographs, or make mental notes of suspects or vehicles nearby.
It’s important to have off-duty survival conversations with family members about how they should respond if you have an off-duty encounter. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a situation to have this conversation. In the event you decide to take action, make sure they understand to distance themselves from you while making a 911 call.
Every year law enforcement officers are seriously injured or killed while intervening in off-duty encounters. If you decide to take action, make sure the 911 center knows your description, what you’re wearing, and then obey all commands from responding units to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of friendly fire. Have a plan and train for what might happen. Please do not become a statistic.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.