Why do some cops have misplaced off-duty priorities?

Having hobbies outside of LE is essential, but cops cannot let those things prevent them from being well equipped and well trained with their firearms


It’s no surprise that law enforcement can be a dangerous business – damned dangerous. So, why is it that I continue to meet brothers and sisters in uniform who are more worried about their hobbies than their ability to defend themselves from a deadly attack?

Frick and Frack

I’ve got this buddy – we’ll call him “Frick.” Frick is a cop who works the rough streets of a mid-sized city with a murder rate (25 per 100K) that places his jurisdiction in the top five cities in the state. His fellow officers tell me he’s a good and aggressive cop, and I don’t doubt them. 

If you wear a badge for a living, then you need to be good with your duty weapon and carry a backup gun. (Photo/Mike Wood)
If you wear a badge for a living, then you need to be good with your duty weapon and carry a backup gun. (Photo/Mike Wood)

A while back, Frick showed me a new gun he had been carrying as an on-duty backup weapon and an off-duty weapon for the last couple of months. It was a nice gun, and I asked him how it shot. “I don’t know,” he told me, “I haven’t shot it yet.” 

I asked a few questions to clarify what he meant, and soon it was obvious that he had taken the gun from the box, loaded it and started to carry it without ever firing a single cartridge through it.

“I haven’t had time,” he explained.

Really.

That’s funny, because I know Frick had recently played in a big golf tournament, and in the months leading up to it he had been training hard and putting in a lot of hours on the greens. I also know he didn’t miss a single weekly coffee with the boys during that time.

I’ve got this other buddy, we’ll call him “Frack.” Trooper Frack is an avid shotgunner who could probably break all 25 clays in a 25 knot crosswind with his eyes closed, but says he’s “not really into handguns” and knows that his pistol skills could use some tuning up. Actually, he’s honest enough to say that he’s “not comfortable” with his duty pistol.

We got to talking about backup guns one day, and he told me that he was carrying a poorly made .22 caliber gun in an ankle rig as his backup gun. When I asked why, he told me it was the only spare gun he had and he didn’t have the money for a better one.

Keep in mind that Frack has some foreign-made shotguns that are worth more than both of the cars parked in my driveway, combined. He shoots buckets of those super expensive shot shells (you know, the kind where the shot is plated with “unobtanium”) every weekend and spends a small fortune on travel expenses and entry fees for all the competitions he attends.

Time and Money

So, back to that priorities thing. I’m no Jedi Master, but I think that if you wear a badge for a living, then you need to be good with your duty weapon and you need to keep your skills sharp. I also think you need to have a reliable backup weapon, which you are equally competent with. If you don’t have two decent guns, or if you’re not good with either of them, then you need to fix that – now!

If this means that you have to cut back on some leisure time activities and expenses in order to have the time and money to make this happen, then that’s what you need to do. You need to make this a priority in your life – the priority – instead of letting it slide while you whack little white balls with an expensive stick up and down manicured fairways.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have hobbies, or that you shouldn’t spend money on them. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t spend time having fun with friends. We all need something fun to look forward to, and a way to provide some relaxation and balance in our hectic lives. 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, after all.

But when Jack is a cop, he needs to get his priorities straight. If Jack the cop has time to scuba dive and snowboard but no time to train and get proficient with his weapon, he’s got a problem. And if Jack the cop is relying on a third-rate, rimfire gun made of zinc to save his life because he pissed away his paycheck on a ski boat and a steady diet of $10 coffees and “can’t afford” something decent, he’s got a problem.

Jack the cop doesn’t need to worry about being dull. 

Jack the cop needs to worry about not being killed.

Jack the cop has got to survive his shift before he can enjoy all those great hobbies and friends, right?

So, get your mind right, and get your priorities straight.

Train hard, and be safe out there. 

This article, originally published on 6/10/2016, has been updated.

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