Surviving Off Duty
It could happen at any time. Criminals who prey on society are working 24/7. Surviving off duty is an enormous topic with a great many considerations to contemplate. While on duty, you are constantly in a state of readiness; Condition Yellow and Condition Orange. Off duty, with family, with friends or daydreaming, you are not so keenly aware.
The first rule of off duty is always be armed. For a number of reasons you should never leave your home without your firearm. If you carry your badge and id then you must carry your weapon. You might be in a situation that needs your intervention or you yourself might be a victim of a crime. There are certain guidelines that should, must, be followed. Always carry additional loading devises, magazines or speed loaders. Carry your firearm in the same place so you will reach for it without thinking about its location on your person. It would be a good idea to also carry handcuffs. There are no backups available and you might need to hold down the fort until the cavalry arrives. That means controlling the suspect(s) while you wait for help to arrive. Speaking about having the proper equipment, it would be ideal to have a portable light source. Such as a flashlight or weapon mounted light. Taking action means being able to clearly identify the situation, the threat, and having a light could be critical for the proceeding investigation that will follow. I teach that an officer must carry two wallets. One for your police ID and badge and the other for your personal identification and credit cards, etc. There is no need to open your wallet to pay and have a badge displayed. Along the same thought process, refrain from wearing any items that link you to law enforcement. Remember, you are not in the on duty officer survival mindset. This goes for not having any linking items on your vehicles. Off duty, just try and blend in and go about your life.
Another equally important concern is having a plan in your mind should something happen. Your family should be instructed on what they must do if you are forced into action. Putting them out of harm’s way will allow you to concentrate on the task at hand. Their role must be to distance themselves from you and contact 911 with valuable information. Understand that it might be better to act as a great witness rather than jump in. You are out there by yourself. There are no radios for communications, no uniform to identify yourself, you might not see the entire situation and when seconds count; your backups are minutes away.
The other situation is if you are a victim of a crime. You have a legal right, and obligation to be armed. If a criminal picks you for their prey; well too bad for them. You just never know; walking your dog, going to the corner store or driving across the country. The moment your mind acknowledges danger, you must respond correctly. If you are not armed, you just might find yourself taking partial action without the needed equipment. You must train with your off duty weapon just like you train with your on duty weapon. Speed is fine but accuracy is final. Train to draw and fire from various positions and wearing non uniform clothing. Surviving is a perishable skill that needs constant training to remain second nature.
Off duty you are dealing with action vs. reaction with a good chance that you will be the one reacting. You might not have the luxury of time. Action must be spontaneous, within policy, and all without stopping to think. While all the above is taking place, an important note is to be aware that you are not wearing your vest. There is no patrol unit for coverage or retrieving additional equipment. The key to survival is to have the proper mindset, be aware of your surroundings, constantly train, have a plan and know what you can and cannot do legally. Once the situation unfolds you must do something. Indecision is fatal. Take action or mentally record the event. Either way, you must switch to the on duty mindset.