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Does Off-Duty Carrying Policy Lead to Baltimore Officer Violence?

A Baltimore police officer is in the midst of defending his name after using his gun while off duty. The first time he fired his weapon while off duty was in 2005, when he reportedly shot at a young man who had assaulted him. The shot wasn’t fatal, unlike the officer’s most recent incident.

This past summer, the same officer was at an area bar while off duty. He allegedly saw a suspect physically harming a woman outside of the club and responded to the incident by shooting his weapon various times at the man. The suspect did not survive his injuries, and now the Baltimore officer is facing the criminal charge of murder.

His defense argues that the defendant acted within the law and that he was sober when he shot his weapon that summer night. Sobriety is a key point in this case because the incident feeds into an ongoing, heated debate regarding off-duty officers and when they should and shouldn’t carry their firearms.

Currently, Baltimore officers are to have their guns on them at all times, unless the situation can be defined by a reasonable person as “inappropriate.” It’s a vague law and leaves the community questioning what “inappropriate” applies to. Should carrying a gun in a bar and when an off-duty officer plans to drink inappropriate?

Some safety critics argue that case, and some cities have even implemented laws that prohibit their off-duty officers from carrying their guns if they plan to drink. Such cities include Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, cities with high rates of reported violence.

Baltimore, too, has a high rate of assault and other violent crimes, a fact that proves to some how important it is that off-duty officers be allowed to carry their weapons at all times. They argue that the policy does more to protect area residents than it does to put people at risk of off-duty officer violence.

We will post an update about the officer who is charged with the Baltimore murder mentioned above. Plus, we will provide information should the city decide that the current off-duty carrying policy needs to change.


The Associated Press: “Baltimore’s drunk-and-armed police rule questioned,” 6 Dec. 2010

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