Are you policing when you’re off duty?

Today’s Blog is a repost from 2018, however it is still a very valid question.

When you are ‘off duty’, your responsibilities are actually very similar to any other civilian and if you see a situation requiring police assistance, then you – like any other citizen – should call the police. 

Because when you’re off duty you are NOT the police and here are a couple of reasons why.

Firstly, you’re out of uniform and the perceived authority of a police officer with a badge vs a police officer in uniform is significant. Huge even. So people will respond much differently to you than when you are in uniform. 

Secondly, the fact that you’re off duty means you’re likely the only police officer there and you’re missing not only your immediate support, but your most important piece of equipment, this being your radio and also your ability to get more support.

Thirdly, equipment wise, you also don’t have the rest of your accoutrements and means of defending yourself or others if needed

Finally, you don’t only put yourself at extra risk, but those who you are with. So, if I were less likely to get involved off duty, then I’m even LESS likely to get involved if I’m out with my family or friends. Do the RESPONSIBLE thing and call the police!

Now, the obvious question that comes up with this is often, “well, what about more benign situations that seem safe?” You’ll realise the answer to this is that it’s very hard to tell. Things can escalate very quickly.

Basically, if you would take some action even without police training or being a police officer, then that is likely a reasonable step. For example, helping someone who is lost to find their way. However, if you feel like the best option is to call the police, then your judgement is probably sound and that’s the best way to go. You will at least be able to give excellent information on the call, knowing what is most relevant for attending officers.

See my thoughts on this important question here, but PLEASE NOTE: This video is my opinion ONLY, and you should always act in accordance with your formal police training appropriate to your specific police service:

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