This news article discusses how some police departments are rethinking their policy of requiring off duty officers to be constantly armed. According to the author, the reason why has been some friendly fire incidents where uniformed officers mistakenly killed their brethren.
That doesn’t seem to be a sufficient reason, though…
“According to the FBI, 43 police officers have been killed since 1987 by friendly fire. Some were caught in crossfire, or killed by firearms mishaps. A handful, like Young, were mistaken for criminals and shot by fellow officers.”
Every single death was a tragedy, but 43 in 18 years? This webpage states that there are about 20,000 police agencies in the US, with about 1 million employees. Of course, not all employees are sworn police officers.
This article from the Rand Foundation states that the US has 2.3 police officers for every 1,000 people. If I’m punching the numbers into the calculator correctly, that’s about 130,000 police officers, a number which seems plausible.
At any rate, there are an awful lot of police officers in a population of 300 million. And “a handful” of those officers have tragically lost their lives due to off-duty incidents in the past 18 years. This doesn’t seem to be a sufficient justification to disarm trained, motivated people who have dedicated their lives to serving the public. And that is what the author of the AP article admits even with all of the talk of friendly fire deaths.
“The policy is at the center of a $20 million civil rights lawsuit being heard this month in Providence, where Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. was killed in 2000 while he was off duty and trying to break up a fight.”
Police officers are held to a higher standard than the public they serve, both in and out of uniform. (Which is a constant source of griping whenever cops talk shop.) This is considered justified because of the nature of the job, and the people we require to perform the service. It makes perfect sense to require those same people to be ready to act in an emergency 24-7.
Unless there’s money on the line, that is.
(Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)