Sort of off duty

Some factors have changed in police work today, specifically the density of officers to citizens in any given community. A glaring example is this: Tucson started 2011 with more than 40 fewer officers when its recent tragedy occurred. And Oakland, Calif...

Checking 6 is done like this: When there is a pause in the incident, good shooters are trained to “reholster reluctantly.” The shooter goes into decock, (finger off trigger), kicks the safety on (finger off trigger) for an M1911 or gets the finger off the trigger for a DAO. The officer s-l-o-w-l-y goes to low ready. Using the “this side toward enemy” philosophy, meaning the gun is still pointed at the greatest perceived threat, the officer looks left and right approximately 270 degrees.

Speaking of checking 6, I have to say it: BLACKHAWK! makes a concealment holster called the Check-Six for M1911 style handgun carry. The company makes it for many models (I have carried a Kimber in one) but the Check-Six/M1911 combination keeps everything out of the way when sling carrying an AR-15.

When the officer is at Check 6, he or she needs to go through a mental checklist. The only way the officer can prepare for this checklist is to mentally rehearse for it ahead of time, here and now. Here are a few suggestions for the checklist, which should be modified for appropriateness, depending on the needs of the individual officer.

1. Have I communicated to others around me?

2. It is likely I do not know how many rounds I fired? I have a fresh magazine and I will insert it now.

3. If I can handcuff the suspect, I will.

4. Is the situation stable?

5. What are my assets?

6. I must render first aid.

7. I must announce who I am and that I am rendering first aid.

Physical conditioning

Besides physical fitness, officers should be conscious of their competence in simple physical tasks required for the job. For example, at a local agency, the firearms training program started many of their shooting drills from the “low ready,” never beginning or ending with a holstered gun. When they did fire from the holster, it was from the duty holster, even for officers in non-uniform assignments.

I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes an officer needs to holster quickly and go to other tools. If it is not practiced, situations like looking at the holster when going to scabbard (a no-no in the business), or missing the holster, can range from embarrassing to injurious. Lack of this physical conditioning may delay the officer’s response or worsen the situation.


Mindset is an attitude or bearing of personal success. Half of this equation has already been resolved. As officers, we know that winning and prevailing is part of why we were first employed. The other half of the equation is our attitude of preparation. We prevail because we maintain a level of fitness, keep our lives unsullied and prefer to end our shifts on our feet.

The internal dialogue is part of the mindset, which I routinely practiced while negotiating the fatal funnel or sneaking through a dark alley. I routinely told myself that I will win any fight, I will not die in a dark alley nor will I give up, regardless of the situation.

The phenomenon of mindset, by the way, is why poor administrative decisions are especially stressful to officers. Succinctly, poor administrative decisions make officers feel as if their ability to control a situation is usurped.


No officer should rely on “lowest bidder” equipment and we don’t. However, we also need to maintain a familiarity with our equipment and choose tools that make tactical sense for the assignment or the situation. I had a conversation with Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training about off-duty training. Pincus offers a system approach to training, called Combat Focus Shooting. I.C.E. Training classes can be brought to the agency. Like most firearms trainers, Pincus advocates strong side carry that is as similar as possible to duty carry.

Pincus tells me, “The more consistent your off-duty carry set up is, the more efficient your training can be. Most companies manufacturing “duty guns” also manufacture compact versions that are easier to conceal, but consistent in operation. The next step is carrying as close to strong-side hip as possible.”

Strong-side carry is best, but I am also a believer in pocket carry. This year at SHOT Show I got to see Magnum’s new Rapid Deployment Apparel line, low key tactical clothing with cotton ripstop outer material and subtle extras like a place to insert knee pads and reinforced pockets, which are carry friendly. I recommend mocha or desert sage for discreet colors.

I actually practice the hand-in-pocket-shrugged-shoulder look that keeps my J-frame indexed in my hand for a ready draw in a deteriorated situation.

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