Train your family for an off-duty encounter with an active shooter

P1 Member Trace Kendig tells PoliceOne: "A lot of talk around our department lately has been about off duty encounters with an active shooter. There are 13 agencies in our county and we do a citywide active shooter instructor’s school for patrol every year, and that is probably the biggest buzz right now." A big part of that, he says, is to work some things out with your family in advance so they’re prepared in the event that they are present while you respond off duty to an active shooter incident.   

Kendig says that they teach everyone to carry off duty, and of course to have a language between you and your spouse — and you and your kids. "When I say ‘Get behind me!’ what does that mean? When I say, ‘Get away!’ what does that mean?"

Kendig says that his wife knows those answers because they’ve developed that in advance. "And of course we tell our families that they have to immediately call 911. But we go a couple of steps beyond that. We tell our families to tell the call-taker what I’m wearing, what I look like, and what kind of gun I have. Those are incredibly important details that can be left out in the frenzy," Kendig says.

"I carry my badge in my wallet on with a clip on it that I can quickly pull out and clip to my shirt or to my belt, but you may not have the time to take that out and put it someplace visible. Even if you do have that kind of time, you can’t just assume that responding officers are going to know you’re a cop. We teach our officers, unless they’re tying to be more discreet and move up on somebody, to just shout, ‘Police! Get down!’ or ‘Police officer! Drop the gun!’ We teach that verbalization for both on and off duty, with the idea that if you’re off duty, the responding officers will pick up on that."

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Doug is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

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  1. Tags
  2. Officer Safety
  3. Active Shooter
  4. Patrol Issues

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