High Risk Critical Task / Off Duty Action

Local law enforcement agencies should adopt safety directives and guidelines for dealing with the carrying of firearms while in an off-duty status and for dealing with an officer’s duty and responsibility to take action in response to criminal activity while in an off-duty status.

A member of a sheriff’s office who becomes aware of an incident that poses a threat of serious bodily harm or death to some individual should take “action” to minimize the risk of serious bodily harm or death. “Action” means reporting the incident and does not require the officer to place him or herself in a position of peril. An officer who is faced with such a circumstance should act in accordance with the guidelines as spelled out in departmental policy.

A number of circumstances may impact your decision to get involved in any situation. First, you may be alone, with family members or other non-law enforcement personnel. Second, it is unlikely that you will have all of the necessary law enforcement service equipment while off-duty, for example, pepper spray, baton, handcuffs or radio. It must be recognized that the available force options as well as threat assessment is changed due to this lack of equipment. You may be faced with multiple suspects or unaware of hidden suspects. There may also be environmental factors working against you such as: lack of cover, crowds of civilians, darkness, etc. Your intervention may actually spark an escalation of violence.

Question: When observing a crime while in an off-duty status your best course of action might be…?

  1. Charge into the event and make an arrest as soon as
  2. Go to a safe location and call 911, then gather intelligence like a good witness until uniformed, on-duty officers
  3. Pull your off-duty weapon and hold everyone until it can be sorted out by on-duty law enforcement officers when they


Answer: B

Go to a safe location and call 911, then gather intelligence like a good witness until uniformed, on-duty officers arrive. If you decide you must get involved what are some recommended safety procedures?

  • Have someone call 911 and tell them you are an armed police officer. They should describe you and your clothing.
  • When on-duty officers arrive, have your badge out and visible.
  • Verbally identify yourself as a police officer, not once and not in a normal tone of voice. Shout: “POLICE! DON’T SHOOT! OFF-DUTY OFFICER!”
  • When responding officers issue commands, follow them. Expect to be treated like a suspect until your law enforcement status is verified.
  • The most important rule of all: If you have a gun in your hand, NEVER, EVER turn toward an on-duty officer.