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Perks
03-19-2014, 07:19 PM
If an off-duty police officer sees a crime, like say a theft or something like that, would he-could he make an arrest, or would he be more likely to hover in watch and wait mode while summoning up an officer who is on the job at the moment?

alleycat
03-19-2014, 07:29 PM
I don't know about anywhere else, but here I believe they are suppose to carry their weapon and effectively be "on-duty" when needed even when they're off-duty.

Unless there are doughnuts involved. :-)

Shadow_Ferret
03-19-2014, 07:30 PM
I believe they do carry their weapons. There was a story just a few months ago about an off-duty Police officer from Wisconsin who participated in an arrest while on vacation in Chicago.

Trebor1415
03-19-2014, 07:34 PM
Short answer, "It depends."

Long answer, It depends on the officer, his department policy, whether he's carrying his weapon (he should be, typically), his badge (again, should), and handcuffs, the severity of the crime, danger to the public, etc.

A lot of it comes down to the officer's own judgement: It is better for him to get involved, out of uniform, or better for him to call for uniformed officers to arrive. Also, is he by himself or with his family, what is he doing, etc. An officer with his family is generally going to be less likely to get involved.

Note, there is a lot of "should," "generally," etc., here. Like I said, "It depends."

What do you need to have happen to work in your story? Figure that out and you can tailor it so the officer does or does not act and have it be believable either way by changing small details of the event.

Jamesaritchie
03-19-2014, 08:27 PM
It's a judgement call. If the situation is such that you would call for backup if you were on duty, you aren't going to attempt an arrest while off duty.

Officers do not necessarily carry their service handgun while off duty. It's going to be a full size, heavy weapon. It makes doing a number of off duty things difficult. Try jogging with a full size handgun around your waist. But most officers do carry a small handgun while off duty, which is often carried as a backup while on duty.

What you carry off duty depends on what you're doing, where you're going, etc.

But on duty or off, you do what you can, without taking unnecessary risks. Just like we all should do.

alleycat
03-19-2014, 08:38 PM
Here's one example regulation from the Metro DC police:

http://www2.justiceonline.org/dcmpd/SO0407.pdf

ironmikezero
03-19-2014, 10:12 PM
In the US, pursuant to 18USC926b, law enforcement officers and retirees are authorized concealed carry even in other states; there are some minor exceptions.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/926B

FWIW, any off-duty personnel (armed or otherwise) who take appropriate action, render aid to any on-duty personnel, etc., to a situation occurring in their presence are very likely going to be graciously thanked.

asroc
03-19-2014, 10:55 PM
Some police departments require their officers to carry off-duty, some don't. The cops I know are usually armed all the time and will act like they're on duty if they come across a crime. What that means depends on the situation.


I don't know about anywhere else, but here I believe they are suppose to carry their weapon and effectively be "on-duty" when needed even when they're off-duty.

Unless there are doughnuts involved. :-)

Especially if there are donuts involved. People who rob a Dunkin Donuts are hunted down with extreme prejudice.

snafu1056
03-20-2014, 12:46 AM
Most of the cops ive known carried a service revolver, usually in an ankle holster, off duty. And yes, if they saw a crime going down they would generally step in themselves. Actually some off duty cops have gotten killed doing this. But that tends to be the personality of anyone who becomes a cop. Theyre usually people of action.

pkbax
03-20-2014, 08:45 PM
Short answer, "It depends."

Long answer, It depends on the officer, his department policy, whether he's carrying his weapon (he should be, typically), his badge (again, should), and handcuffs, the severity of the crime, danger to the public, etc.

A lot of it comes down to the officer's own judgement: It is better for him to get involved, out of uniform, or better for him to call for uniformed officers to arrive. Also, is he by himself or with his family, what is he doing, etc. An officer with his family is generally going to be less likely to get involved.

Note, there is a lot of "should," "generally," etc., here. Like I said, "It depends."

What do you need to have happen to work in your story? Figure that out and you can tailor it so the officer does or does not act and have it be believable either way by changing small details of the event.

^This

As odd as it may seem, there are actually departments that have policies against acting in an official capacity when off-duty (my husband worked for one). Although, as a cop, he would never allow it to just happen without some action (even if only a phone call with a detailed description) on his part.

kenpochick
03-20-2014, 09:06 PM
My husband is a police officer and does not carry his weapon when off duty. Not to mention that he doesn't wear his vest when off duty which would be equally important. When he has observed things e has called someone who is on duty to respond. Often on off-duty police officer will follow or stay with something suspicious while they call it in for an on-duty police officer to respond.

Hendo
03-24-2014, 07:45 AM
It really depends on the officer. I know some that will just sit back and watch even if they're armed but they'd take note of everything that was happening. Others who hop right into the thick of it(I know one officer who was tackled from behind and injured because the responding officers didn't realize he was a cop...after that he said that was the last time he would stop to help)

A big issue though is something that I'm not seeing mentioned. That would be handcuffs. Even if the officer is carrying his weapon, he'd be in a difficult situation making an arrest of someone who wasn't compliant. Depending on the location he could potentially be in a 10 minute wrestling match while waiting for help. When I was in the academy it was "suggested" that we don't go out of our way to make arrests while off duty if it could be avoided for that very reason.

Personally, I always kept a set of handcuffs in my glove compartment just in case but there's a big difference between having them in my car and wearing them all the time. I only know one officer who wore cuffs while off duty and that was my idiot Lt. He was the real life equivalent of the main character from Hot Fuzz if you've ever seen that movie. Anyway.... for a theft, I'd be most likely to observe unless I knew that help was right around the corner. But for something more serious like DV or anything like that I'd get involved right away regardless.

jaus tail
03-24-2014, 07:59 AM
It depends on the character. Most officers don't even arrest on duty, so it really depends on what kind of a man he is.

Yesterday I read a news article about a group of men who thrashed a molestor. I've also read about incidents where a guy who tried to pick pocket was caught and beaten by the mob.

Then there are articles where people act like heroes and catch a petty thief. It really depends on the character.

Perks
03-24-2014, 04:46 PM
Thanks guys! This info has definitely helped me develop the scene. I'm writing it today, in fact -- as soon as I finish my coffee and stop procrastinating.

When I chewed over the info here, I realized I could make a case for pretty much whatever I wanted him to do, so the question I asked and the answers you gave steered me into thinking more about what I wanted to show about this character, not so much about having a Batman and Robin interlude in Chapter 5.

That's why I love you guys. Thank you!