Law Enforcement Off Duty Carry: Local cop shoots himself…again
By: Joshua Gideon
I would like to start this article with a bit of a disclaimer. I am in no way a cop hater or law enforcement basher. I have many close friends who serve or have served our communities as law enforcement officers. I have also participated in training with the police department SWAT team mentioned in the article below and I have met the Chief as well. Despite this incident there are a lot of good officers on that department, and I am sure that they are as disappointed with this incident as everyone else. I am sympathetic to the incident as the Chief seems to be a nice person and I hate to see him and his department tarnished by this incident. At the same time, it’s the Chief’s responsibility to get the appropriate training he and his officers need.
Whoa, wait a second…is this writer saying that a law enforcement officer needs more firearms training? Don’t they do that all the time? Well before we get into that, let’s examine the facts of what happened. The news reports that the Chief went into a local gun store and was comparing the size of another handgun to the .40 Glock he was carrying. He is quoted as saying, “I was wearing a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket, I felt (the gun) go in the holster and I pushed it, but it was tangled in the material which caused it to discharge. The bullet went into my leg and then into the floor.” (http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/indiana-police-chief-shoots-self/#axzz2rGYIbaNC)
The news media went wild with this story and social media exploded with people commenting on the incident. The masses of gun owners, who think reciting a set of safety rules makes them impervious to this sort of incident, began making comments on how much of an idiot this guy is and how Rule # “X” was not followed (most of them before they even knew the details). As I stated in my disclaimer, I know several of the officers that work in this town and I have trained with a few of them. There are some great officers in this town and a few of them have dedicated themselves to get the civilian training they need for off duty carry of a firearm.
Think about it. Your average Law Enforcement Officer drives a car and punches a keyboard more than he fires his weapons. From my observations, as well as observations expressed to me by several LEO’s throughout the years, a great majority of LEO’s practice only enough to meet their yearly firearms qualifications. You might be surprised how few hours your local law enforcement officers spend on firearms training. Unlike many of the people reading this, not all law enforcement officers are gun collectors and shooters (gasp). They qualify using their gear, firearm, and wearing their duty uniform. Few, I mean very few, spend their own time furthering their firearms skills. Even fewer seek out training for carrying off duty. Why on earth would we think the police academy or yearly qualifications somehow gives them the skills to carry concealed off duty? Let alone teach firearms training to civilians, but I’ll save that one for another article.
There are a few lessons we can learn from this unfortunate incident. If Law Enforcement Officers are going to carry off duty, they need to seek out and get the training they need. Drawing from a concealed holster and re-holstering is a skill that needs to be developed. No different than approaching a vehicle on a traffic stop. Most civilians would totally get that wrong and accidents would happen. This means stepping outside the typical law enforcement training and getting some good civilian defensive firearms training. Seek out training that focuses on concealed carry, handguns, and gear you would use off duty. Don’t be too proud to get the training you need.
If you are a civilian, and have not taken the same type of training, be careful throwing rocks from your glass house. I know more civilians that have put a bullet through their hand or in their leg than I do law enforcement officers. It’s easy to talk smack on the Internet. It’s much more difficult to invest in the training you need. This topic also brings up the point that most civilians do not have the medical training they need. If you know how to make the holes, you need to know how to plug them. How many reading this right now have at least one gun within arms reach? Okay, how many of you have a medical blow out kit within arms reach? Does that glass house look a little more vulnerable now?
Whether we are legal firearms owner, former military, or Law Enforcement, we need to get appropriate training for our areas of operation. In the case of Law Enforcement, it’s off duty carry. In the case of military, it is likely counter ambush training (face it most of what you were taught was how to ambush the enemy, not counter it in a shopping mall). In the case of civilians, it’s ensuring that we have the skills (medical and self defense) to keep ourselves alive until reinforcements arrive (LEO’s, EMT’s, etc.). We need to break down the walls between this compartmentalized thinking and realize we are all working together as a team with different responsibilities. I appreciate that Chief Counceller took responsibility by saying, “It was pure carelessness on my part.” Now Chief is your chance to step up and get the training you need and encourage your officers to do the same. In fact, I would be happy to organize a training day for you and the department if you wish to take me up on the offer.
It is each and every one of our responsibilities to train and be prepared to play our role in a dynamic critical incident.