Coming from a correctional background, I like to talk with my former co-workers anytime I can. I also like to talk with officers who have hired in since I left corrections a little more than 10 years ago.
Given my present occupation, the conversation almost always turns toward firearms and training. I hear many lamentations concerning how some corrections officers do not feel they should have to go through Michigan’s required CPL class since they have a departmental carry permit and have been carrying a handgun on the job for five,ten, or twenty years, whatever the case may be.
I thought I might be able to shed some light on this subject, since I have seen it from both angles.
First off, you need to understand that your role in carrying a firearm is much different when carrying while at work as opposed to carrying concealed out in “the world”. Your role at work while armed is to head toward the danger. You stop inmates from killing staff or each other, stop them from escaping custody, and you even stop “Joe citizen” from throwing drugs and weapons over the fence etc. These types of actions are far different than any you would encounter outside of correctional setting. Out here, as a CPL holder, you’re primary job is to avoid trouble and altercations that would normally not be possible in the world of corrections. Contrary to popular belief, a CPL doesn’t make you World Cop or under cover crime dog. If bad situations cannot be avoided then you have the responsibility to protect yourself, your family etc., all the while understanding that your firearm is your absolute last resort.
Another aspect that is entirely different is the legalities of concealed carry. Sure, you’ve had training in the use of force and may even be able to recite the department’s use of force policy. But, have you had any training in Michigan’s Castle Doctrine? Do you know when and where the Castle Doctrine protects you as a gun owner? Do you know when you have a duty to retreat and when you do not?
Unless you want to end up as an inmate for trying to protect yourself, you’d better be familiar with with more than 04.05.110(Use of Force).
Lastly, lets talk about equipment. At work you carry a Glock G22 in a duty holster, on a duty belt with spare magazines conveniently placed in horizontal magazine pouches, along with at least one “non-lethal option” such as pepper spray.
All of your handgun training is done using this same duty rig. A duty rig that you won’t have out here on the streets.
Out here, some of you may opt to carry to a full size handgun, at least at first. A spare mag will get shoved in your pocket along with your gum and your car keys, spare change, a Bic lighter and several used tooth picks. Then you’ll get tired of carrying it and it will end up in your glove box or left at home. Then, if you are still as concerned about carrying concealed as you should be, you’ll buy a small compact semi-auto or a S&W J Frame that will be much more comfortable to carry, but the trade off is that it will require much more training and practice to master than your full size pistol. That’s training and practice that you never received through the Michigan Department of Corrections. It’s one thing to maintain defensive accuracy out to 25 meters with a full size pistol, but it’s entirely another to do it with compact 9mm or a .38 snubby.
And speaking of firearms training in the Michigan Department of Corrections, have you ever drawn from concealment while qualifying?
Have you ever received training concerning how to best conceal a pistol? How about spare mags and ammo?
What works best for concealed carry in winter? What works best on a hot summer day?
The Michigan Department of Corrections’ firearms training program is a qualification program. You are trained up to a point that allows you to pass the qualification and nothing more. Any training beyond that is your responsibility.
So you’ve carried at work for 10+ years. Tell me again how that is relevant for concealed carry?
In conclusion, I want to add that the training you receive within the Dept. of Corrections is very good training and is very relevant for the job that you are required to perform as an armed corrections officer. Some of that training does carry over.
But as I’ve pointed out above, the training for concealed carry is far different and it needs to be.
See you on the range!