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Being the only officer on duty...

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by golls17, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. golls17

    golls17 Lifetime Newbie

    Feb 3, 2009
    I interviewed with a department yesterday that only has 1 officer on duty at any given time. Any of you do this? Pros? Cons?

    The biggest problem I foresee would be a SHTF situation and I need help. County could be 15+ minutes out, etc. The dept. requires its officers to live in the city (only 1.3 square miles), so help from them would be just a call away.

    Thanks for the input.
  2. merlynusn


    Nov 16, 2007
    If it's that small a town, everyone will know your business. Also, my biggest concern would be the safety aspect. But as long as you go into it knowing the risks, it's up to you to determine how much you want to take on. I guess it wouldn't be any different than a huge county with 4 deputies on and backup is still 15+ minutes out.

  3. giant_pita


    Oct 9, 2011
    First 11 years of my career was like that, with backup sometimes more like a half hour away. You learn to talk, keep your distance and evaluate whether or not issues need to be delt with right now or can wait until the morning or when you have more help. We had COs who worked alone while confronting armed hunters. THOSE are the situations that I would not want to be in.

    Know your capabilities and dont think the badge will protect you if you bite off more than you can chew. It took me a broken nose about 7 months into copping to learn that valuable lesson (Only cop on duty, 15 min later 2nd cop arrived in pajamas)

    If you are careful, you can learn a lot about dealing with people.
  4. Arvinator


    Jan 16, 2011
    As a 22 year cop, I now work in a town of 6,500 and I work graveyards. At times alone for 2 to 6 hours. I stay alert, I carry my Glock on my side with a snubbie in my back pocket and a second strapped to my vest. I keep a dept. issue vid-mic to record my contacts with a personal tape recorder as backup. (In case the vidmic fails or is taken, the recorder may be missed and used as evidence. I keep a spare flashlight clipped to my shirt, and I have a shotgun in the car.
    I know my limitations, and I know it is 15 to 30 minutes before backup gets awake and to me. Everyone else is asleep in the entire County. Know control tatics, and if it gets ugly, you are alone for the duration of the fight. The fight will be over before most can wake up.
    Am I worried? Nope, I have my Faith in God, my experience and common sense with my training and tools. I feel better with a second officer I normally have, but I make do and never sweat the small stuff. Good Luck to you!
  5. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    There is a two man dept in my area. Chief works during the day. One officer on duty 40hrs a week at night. He is on call on the nights he doesn't work. Backup could easily be 30mins out.

    I couldn't do it. I work for a municipal dept and we have two officers respond to almost all calls. Just having two officers on scene prevents most trouble. I get very few resisting charges. Most people decide not to fight when outnumbered.
  6. JK-linux


    Mar 5, 2009
    I was in Law Enforcement in Illinois for 5 years (in the early 1990's) and that was the norm in my department. There were 6 people to split full-time coverage of roughly 50 square miles. County and City were great to work with as backup, but they were often 15 to 30 minutes away and often clueless about where exactly I was. I worked mainly rural, wooded areas so even though ready, willing and capable backup was available, it could take a bit. I learned quickly to check in often with Dispatch to let them know where to look for me. I also learned to take my time to see whats going on, when appropriate, before engaging in situations instead of charging in. It's no fun to go wandering in like Clint Eastwood to an apparent 2 person domestic, only to find out there are 20 bikers 25 feet back in the tree line playing around with meth and home made Class III firearms.
  7. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    Eight years of it. We're a 4 FTE agency surrounded by a much larger agency. Fortunately it usually is never more than a few minutes for help, and that has actually improved recently with a countywide communications center. You learn to pick your battles and how to balance assertiveness.

    You are actually probably at greater risk from the politics than the people, though. There are cops everywhere (deputies, troopers, conservation, etc) that work a long way from backup all by themselves. Small town policing, especially in a place where you have to live in town (which I fortunately do not...couldn't afford it for starters) is an incredibly political animal. I virtually guarantee you that if you get this job you will encounter somebody on the job who will dislike the actions your take and make an effort to make your life hell. How far they make it depends largely on the integrity of your Chief, mayor, city council, etc. I know these people exist everywhere, but in larger, more insulated agencies with greater protections (like civil service and/or a union), they shouldn't be of as great of concern.
  8. ^^^ This.

    Not from a small agency but first 3 years assigned a footpost to a big housing project. Was a great learning experience on so many different levels. But most important, you'll learn how to talk/listen to people and officer safety. You know..., what doesn't kill you will make you stronger stuff.

    Best if you enjoy interacting with people. In a small town you're going to end up knowing everybody.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  9. I agree with this as well, in addition to knowing your limitations..There is some excellent advice in these responses.....It's really not as bad as it seems. It forces you to become self reliant,if you're not already and keeps you on your toes..Make friends with the coppers and dispatchers in the adjoining jurisdictions and there's usually one or two guys in a department that won't mind a "call out" if you need help......Personally, I wouldn't let this keep me from accepting a position...
  10. BIGGUNS911


    Nov 8, 2009
    in the NW
    I work in a county that is 1925 square miles and has a population of about 18,728 people. I work my are alone all the time. The Troopers are always ready to help but some areas the response time is over 1/2 hour. We have two districts and rarely are allowed to back each other up. There are times that I will work a Friday or Saturday night by my self and after midnight no back up from the troopers at all.

    Did I also tell you that we are very limited on backing other departments up in our area there for they are less likely to want to come back us up.We are also limited on the amount of ammo we can carry. We can carry three mags of ammo for handgun and one 20 round and one 30 round mag for rifle, each rifle mag is down loaded 2 rounds. That is a total of 84 rounds, 3 (15 round pistol mags +1, and 46 rifle rounds. That amount of ammo can go very fast when the SHTF. But you know "the SHTF does no go on around hear". :steamed:
  11. Buy yourself a pack of index cards. Everyone you come across merits an index card. Pedigree, photo, nickname, friends & family, arrests...
  12. lndshark


    Nov 15, 2009
    NOT the PNW (yet)
    There is always at least two of us on at any given time unless one of us is out of town on a warrant pick-up. But, several of our surrounding townships do not contract with the county for police service (or only contract for daytime patrols :upeyes:) so we are constantly backing up the State Police on anything from accidents to domestics...the latter usually once every Saturday night.

    Typically we arrive before the State folks as their post is 15 miles away but when in the field, they are usually on their own when out in the boonies.

    I'm so used to having someone less than 2 minutes away to help...I'm not sure if I'd like working by myself. The advice of others is excellent though...pick your battles wisely!
  13. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    A restriction on ammo is ridiculous. I carry two spare pistol mags on my belt, a BUG, three spare pistol mags three spare carbine mags and 5 boxes of shotshells in the car.
  14. We only have one grave who is alone for 5 hours a night. It's actually my preferred shift to work. No supervision, you get to avoid the big wigs, you have the town to yourself and you can do what you want.

    For those 5 hours a night that I am alone I am very conscious of officer safety tactics. Backup can be an hour away, but is usually about 15 minutes. You just have to know what you are going into and have a predetermined survival response plan. Also make sure that you are in shape and are proficient in arrest control tactics.

    I forgot who said it but be polite, be kind, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
  15. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

    Sep 26, 2007
    I started working for a one officer town. I think there are several benefits to working in one that larger agencies may not be able to provide.

    The good:

    1. You get to learn how to be more self sufficient. Backup is usually available from other nearby towns which allows you to see how other officers may handle a problem better, or worse and learn from it.

    2. You get to know your customers.

    3. You get training to do things that officers from other larger agencies may not get because they have specialized officers handle it... It will probably be more, "You catch it, you fillet it."

    4, Resume building.

    The bad:

    1. politics

    2. follow up

    3. under training/no training

    4. backup?

    5. having to abide by obsolete/poorly written policy, and/or supervisors that refuse to follow, or change those policies.

    6. Advancement?

    Depending on the agency, the bad may not be an issue.
  16. My first agency was a single officer per shift city. I spent many shifts doing entire house searches by myself or with help from an adjoining city that also only had one officer on duty.

    Nothing like searching a 10K square foot house by yourself on an alarm/open door call.

    However, I did all of the cases by myself from contact to submission to the prosecutor. Learned quite a bit. Also learned the value of verbal judo. Came in handy as well. Learned that handcuffing a suspect to a light standard is okay if you are chasing other suspects at the same time.
  17. AngryBassets

    AngryBassets Jagenden Übel

    I started out in a town where you usually were along between 2am and noon. Backup was always close, however. I did like "owning" the town...I took pride in what didn't happen when I was working.
  18. VA27


    Mar 23, 2002
    I've been doin' it for 36 years. 3 days a week I cover about 900 sq miles. 2 days a week (the neighboring county guy's day off) I have more than double that.

    I do have radio coverage for most of that, cell phone coverage for about half of it, but we've only had a county repeater for about 10 years and cell phones for about 6 years. Before that it was a pretty lonely job.

    Back up from the county can usually be there inside half an hour, day or night. (Thank God for Reserve Deputies, as there are only 4 full-time Deputies here.)

    You gotta be a 'people person', or you can talk yourself into an 'axx-whupin' as often as you can stand it.

    Are there times when I wish I had a ride-along partner or back up a little closer? Absolutely! But you get used to it. My daddy always said, "You can get used to hangin', if you do it long enough."

    Good luck with the job.
  19. JBaird22


    Nov 18, 2005
    I started out working in a town where I was it from 3am to 7am. If the jailer needed help, I was his backup, if I needed help, there was a deputy on somewhere in our end of the county and officers in city's that were 10 to 20 miles away that might be able to come help.

    You learn a lot about yourself and like others said, you learn to choose your battles. I say this though: don't work for a city that requires you to live there. I've only lived in 1 city I worked for and while it does give you a vested interest in making things better, you also are stuck living in the toilet you police and you are never really off duty. I know you want to get back in it, but keep looking. Seriously.
  20. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest CLM

    Jun 30, 2004
    Unmarked Rustbox
    Yep. Especially in an area that small.

    The proper FI card is a dying art.