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  • #16
    Originally posted by Vigilis View Post
    The recent tragedy at Ft. Hood and some of the comments about it here on the board got me thinking. Imagine there's an active shooter and there's an off duty cop/plainclothes cop/ccw there who returns fire. When the police respond, they'd just encounter two people shooting at each other. How do they tell who is the aggressor and who is the defender? What would you do?

    Also, if one is the off duty/plainclothes/ccw, what would you do to let the police know that you're the good guy, assuming that it's still an active gunfight?
    That's been a big question for as long as I can remember. Some of my academy and in service training addressed this issue to bring awareness to uniformed officers and good guys in plain clothes, but there is no perfect solution. The concept of "avoiding reflective response" was geared towards getting plain clothes officers to consider the totality of the circumstances before pulling a gun. Here are some other helpful tips about this subject: Know the color of the day and wear it while in plain clothes if it applies to your area. Keep badge/ID or shield/ID on a (breakaway only) chain around neck to allow increased ID exposure while handling gun, or other method of displaying ID without hands while holding gun. The use and recognition of certain terms and phrases (some taught to be specifically used in these situations) that are generally generic to police. Plain clothes officers should be ready to quickly and clearly verbalize who they are along with anything else verbal and or visual that is likely to persuade uniformed officers that they are cops. Uniformed cops also need to be able to do a quick analysis of the plain clothes officer and be able to quickly ask some questions (when possible) that the plain clothes cop should be able to answer, an example might be "whose the commanding officer at the county police academy", something like that or similar that most area cops should know, while keeping in mind that federal and other out of the area officers might not know. This is where advanced notification comes into place. Some plain clothes operations are obviously top secret and the officers have to take into consideration that they are more likely to be mistaken when conducting secret plain clothes operations on someone else's turf. Notifying the resident PD in advance is essential whenever possible when working in plain clothes. Beyond those tips which are just things to keep in mind, it comes down to both the experience and instincts of both the unformed and plain clothes officers involved, but nothing is etched in stone in these situations. Little things like the type of gun, holster, spare ammo, vest and type of vest if one is involved, tactics used, lingo, maybe type of vehicle involved, other equipment like cuffs and radio or lack of it can all be factors used to paint a picture. Above all and most important is that the officer in plain clothes is at a greater disadvantage and should try to avoid these situations at all costs, and carries the burden of communicating who he/she is. The UNIFORMED OFFICERS ARE ALWAYS IN CHARGE, regardless of jurisdiction, rank,status, seniority, or anything else. THE UNIFORM GUY ALWAYS HAS THE LEAD CALL and all plain clothes officers must comply. "Don't you know who I am?" spoken in a commanding voice from a plain clothes detective lieutenant doesn't cut it, even if he's dealing with a rookie in uniform. THE UNIFORMED GUY WILL BE THE BOSS IN THAT situation until all other factors are safely established. Avoidance, some training, experience in both uniform and plain clothes, and common sense will ultimately be the determining factor. Be safe!
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