Showing a Gun

Unlike most sites on the Internet, I have a different perspective on a Denny's restaurant in the news:


The chief of the Belleville, Illinois Police Department has reportedly ordered his employees to stay out of a Denny’s restaurant there.  The decision came after a group of detectives were reportedly asked by a Denny’s manager to leave the restaurant New Year’s Day.

The detectives were on-duty but not in uniform when a customer told a manager at the restaurant that at least one of the officers was carrying a gun... the manager continued to insist the detective either leave or secure the gun in her car, even after being shown badges and being told they were police.

Belleville Police Captain Don Sax said the badges were in plain view and that there were portable police radios on the table where the detectives were seated...


In the end, the officers left.

Some police agencies wisely avoid situations like this by mandating officers in plain-clothes cover their weapons by wearing jackets or something similar.

I worked plain-clothes for several years and my employer had that simple policy--if you were in public and not wearing your uniform, you were required (with some exceptions) to hide your gun and holster.

From a practical perspective, such a policy addresses the situation as a safety issue since non-uniform officers are not likely equipped with all of the usual tools of the trade, and therefore should try to avoid being readily identified.

Second, the residents of different areas of the US have varying tolerances for posessession of firearms.

In Alaska, everyone is assumed to be armed; while in Washington D.C., city laws prohibit owning and carrying guns.

Since Illinois sides with States that more actively restrict firearms, it would make sense for the chief of the Belleville (IL) Police Department to review and revise the agency's "carry" policy for non-uniformed officers--as with no jacket, the gun worn by an individual in "street clothes" may be much more visible than a badge clipped to a belt.

Wearing a jacket in Illinois in January is not too much to ask; especially in the name of officer safety and the agency's public image.


23 comments:

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I must say that while sitting in a car wash (much to my husband's surprise as I don't visit them often) a man walked in with a T-shirt that said POLICE across the front. He was dressed in shorts and tennis shoes. On his waist was a rather large gun. I can't tell you what kind. My initial reaction was that he was a police officer, but then I got to thinking. I do live in Texas and who's to say he wasn't some nut strutting around with a gun in his belt. This did not make me feel safe and I was relieved my car was signaled for finish.

Anonymous said...

i think the cops were just trying to get free meals and the manager was mad at them.

Clarissa Draper said...

It sounds like an odd story but I agree, they should try to hide their guns, especially in family restaurants with little kids about.

Cindy Beck, author said...

Not sure I understand the manager's logic, since the officers identified themselves. However, I'm sure the next time he's robbed, he'll wish he'd had some of the plain clothes guys sitting there. Guns showing or not.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah there shoud be no reason not to wear a jacet and cover it. some like the power of showing it off though.

Brian Miller said...

i think your idea is sensible....i would imagine as well in light of recent events people are over sensitive and so we need to be as well...

Lydia Kang said...

Odd story. Still, the manager had the right to decide what was comfortable for his other patrons, I guess. Or not?

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I'm surprised that they asked them to leave.

Maxi said...

Hmm, does Alaska have less crime than DC? Cover the weapon just makes sense.
Blessings ~ Maxi

messymimi said...

If you aren't in uniform, hide your piece. Simple, clean, easy, no misunderstandings.

terri said...

While I agree that it's probably best for plain clothes officers to wear something to hide their guns, I think the restaurant manager went too far. Once they identified themselves as the police, that should have been the end of it. They put their lives on the line every day for the safety of the public and in return, what do they get? They get dismissed because someone is uncomfortable that the tools of their trade are visible. That's just wrong.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

A couple of years back, there were some gun toting civilians in a pizza place. They made it very obvious they were carrying guns and were apparently not happy when the manager asked them to leave. It's intimidating to see anyone strutting around with a gun, badge or no badge.

We're about 45 minutes outside DC but we might as well be in the wild west. For example, one of our VA reps is fighting to allow people to buy more than one gun a month instead of having a waiting period for each gun--this in the same state that the VA Tech shooting took place. It's not the cops around here we have to worry about.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Sometimes its better that policemen hide their guns when they are in family restaurants.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Excellent points, SD, and sounds like a reasonable policy standard. Too bad those in charge are too seldom reasonable!

Shirley Wells said...

I think guns should be hidden in public places where children are likely to be around. As you say, it's not too difficult to wear a jacket.

Of course, I may have a different perspective being in the UK. I have to go abroad to see anyone - police or otherwise - carrying a gun. :)

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Sounds like a few adults got into a pissing match, but your solution seems sensible!

James (SeattleDad) said...

I think it would be good practice to hide the weapons when not in uniform. Interesting topic.

Anonymous said...

Um...no.

Plainclothes police ARE in uniform. There's a practical reason why they are in civs, it's not some sort of perk.

Sometimes this is a t-shirt and shorts and tennis shoes, because some of us have to (for instance) look in a field for something, or go through trash cans, or just got off a shift at SWAT where you have to wear body armor and H-gear all day. Things that make a uniform or a suit jacket and nice shoes impracticable.

Is it reasonable to wear a jacket indoors? You tell me about the guy who won't take off his coat.

It is reasonable and sometimes a good idea to be covert. I do this all the time. There are times when you do NOT want to be made as as a badge, or as armed.

But it needs to fit the situation and shouldn't be mandated by policy because some ninny thinks her kids aren't safe around a (probably level 3) holstered firearm worn by an experienced police officer.

Have you been to Belleville? I grew up there. I would bet you my next paycheck that there was more than one other patron with a 3"+ belt knife. Are you scared to have your kids around John Farmer grabbing a bite on his way to pick up some tractor parts?

You're not, because in its holster, that knife can't hurt you can it?

Good heavens people, get over yourselves. Forks don't make you fat, and inert things laying around aren't dangerous. Except maybe the ice outside the door.

Most of you complaining here would also have a problem with a uniformed police officer with cuffs and radio and Taser and firearm with extra magazines. This happens all the time also.

I was in Motors half-time for a while and I had several incidents such as this (when eating or otherwise minding my own business, if I'm there for a job then I couldn't care less). I'm well-known for my patience and outreach, and talked to several "freaked out" people with mixed results. Was asked to leave a couple of times. In full, traditional uniform. Oh, well.

If you're gonna be freaked, you've got a problem. I don't care that cops or guns scare you. I don't know that your son or boyfriend across town has warrants, and don't really care about that either. I'm here to eat and get back to work. Telling me how to act because of ignorant people just pisses officers off for no reason.

AB HOME Interiors said...

I definitely think it's better in a family atmosphere to be a bit more subdued. but just my opinion.

Hope you had a fantastic holiday. Happy New Year!

Jeanette Levellie said...

I think anyone who risks their life on a daily basis so I can stay safe, deserves to carry a gun when they are out of uniform. So there.

Stephanie said...

So much different than in Canada! I'm not sure I've ever noticed a plain clothes Police Officer in a restaurant with a visible fire arm, now you have me thinking I'm not very observant:)

ladyfi said...

ha ha - kids keep us on our toes! Love your little guy's comment.

JJ.in.Phila said...

I've have to agree with the police on this. A cop is always on duty and always a potential target.

Some people don't like guns, but should a uniformed police office "check his gun" at the door because of that? No. I think it is the same standard for a plainclothes office.

One thing that they could do, however, is display their badges.