10 Commandments of off-duty carry
By Heath Jepson
PoliceOne Member
In April 1989, I was a junior in college and had returned home to my parents’ house for the second part of my spring break. I had spent the first part working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro area as a security officer. I had a valid CCW permit and always took my duty and off-duty weapons with me upon returning home.
My parents had a livestock and dog breeding operation near the Minnesota/Iowa border, and they had been the victims of several brazen burglaries

Practical plainclothes and off-duty carry
Unfortunately, the closest thing to off-duty carry training many officers get is qualifying with their off-duty piece once or twice per year.
The first night I was home, my younger brothers and I were having supper when we were disturbed by the sound of our dogs barking loudly.
I armed myself with my off-duty weapon (a Colt 1911 .45 ACP) and a spare magazine, grabbed a flashlight, and went to investigate.
Even though I knew about the burglaries, I walked out the door expecting to find an animal messing with our dogs.

What I found was a pair of men, one of whom was armed with a shotgun.We exchanged fire at a range of about 30 yards and they ran off into the night.  I was uninjured and the burglars never showed up at any of the area hospitals, so we can assume that I either missed or they self-treated.  Ever since this incident, I have been a big proponent of off-duty/concealed carry.  Here are some of the points that I came away from this incident with.  I call them my “10 Commandments of off-duty carry.”

1.) Buy and carry a quality off-duty handgun
2.) Have night sights on your off-duty handgun
3.) Carry spare ammunition off-duty
4.) A flashlight should be part of your off-duty rig
5.) Carry a handgun of sufficient caliber
6.) Thin is in when it comes to concealed handguns
7.) Match the carry rig to your attire and body type
8.) Train diligently with your off-duty weapon
9.) Maintain a vigilant off-duty mindset
10.) Have a gun in the first place!

Being armed off-duty is an important choice, and it is not one to be taken lightly. Weigh your options when it comes to equipment and training. Being armed off-duty is a choice that should be discussed with spouses, significant others, and even children. This will help to ensure that you have an off-duty family plan for any hostile encounter that you may face.

I hope that you decide to carry off-duty — in my opinion, not enough officers do. All too often we hear about off-duty officers getting hurt or worse, and I believe that in many of these cases being armed might have made a difference.

Please stay safe and vigilant, my brothers and sisters.