May 23, 2017

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Off-Duty Police Officer Responsibilities

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with off-duty enforcement actions.

When making the decision whether to intervene in a situation when off-duty there a ton of things you need to consider.

My thanks to Sgt. John Del Valle of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department here in California for suggesting this topic. 

Most law enforcement officers across the country, have the authority to make arrests even when they are off-duty. But just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we should. There is no legal requirement for off-duty officers, deputies, troopers to take law enforcement action while off-duty. When making the decision whether to intervene in a situation when off-duty there a ton of things you need to consider:


  1. The tactical disadvantage of being alone and the fact there may be multiple or hidden suspects. 
  2. The inability to communicate with responding units. 
  3. The lack of equipment such as handcuffs, OC or baton. 
  4. The lack of cover. 
  5. The potential of increased risk to bystanders. 
  6. Unfamiliarity with the surroundings. 
  7. The potential to be misidentified as the bad guy by responding law enforcement personnel or witnesses. 
  8. The possibility of poor decision making if you’ve consumed any alcohol. 

Now, I know there may be instances where your intervention is necessary to save lives. But in most instances my recommendation is to be a good witness. Gather as much accurate information as possible and provide it to the responding law enforcement personnel when they arrive. 

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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