Safe Storage Policies and Practices for Firearms Issued to Law Enforcement Officers in Washington State

Abstract

Law enforcement officers play an important role in promoting the safe storage of firearms. However, the safe storage practices of law enforcement agencies and officers themselves are not well characterized. This study examined the issuance of locking devices and safe storage policies among law enforcement agencies in Washington State. This is an observational survey study of agency policies. One hundred and six agencies responded to a brief survey. Seventy-six percent of agencies reported issuing locking devices for agency-issued firearms, and 76% of agencies also reported offering training in safe storage of firearms. Half (52%) of agencies offered cable locks, 36% provided gun safes, and 31% of agencies provided more than one type of locking device. These findings suggest the need for expanding the routine issuance of locking devices among agencies in Washington State and enhancing the types of locking devices available to law enforcement officers.

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Funding

The preparation of this article was supported in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Development of the National Institutes of Health (T32HD057822). The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Correspondence to Christopher R. DeCou.

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Appendix

Appendix

Survey Instrument

Washington Law Enforcement Agency Survey

Agency Characteristics:

  1. 1.

    What is the name of your agency?

  2. 2.

    How would you describe the structure of your agency (e.g., Sherriff’s Office, City Police Department, Tribal Police Department, etc.)?

  3. 3.

    How many sworn Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) are employed by your agency?

  4. 4.

    What is your annual call volume (approximately)?

  5. 5.

    What firearms are issued to sworn LEOs in your agency that they would typically store at home when not on duty?

Locking Device Policies and Practices:

  1. 6.

    Does your agency provide firearm locking devices (e.g., trigger locks, cable locks, gun safes, etc.) to the LEOs that you employ?

  2. 7.

    (If yes to Q6) Approximately what year did your agency start issuing locking devices?

  3. 8.

    (If yes to Q6) If yes, what types of locking device(s) do you issue to LEOs in your agency?

  4. 9.

    (If yes to Q6) If yes, does your agency have a written SOP related to issuance of locking devices?

Safe Storage Training Policies and Practices:

  1. 10.

    Does your agency provide training and/or instruction in the safe storage of firearms for the LEOs that it employs?

  2. 11.

    (If yes to Q10) If yes, what does this training consist of?

  3. 12.

    (If yes to Q10) Also if yes, is there a written SOP related to this training?

General Comments

  1. 13.

    Is there anything else about your agency’s policies and procedures that you would like to share with our research team?

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DeCou, C.R., Huppert, T., Crowell-Williamson, G. et al. Safe Storage Policies and Practices for Firearms Issued to Law Enforcement Officers in Washington State. J Police Crim Psych (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-020-09389-9

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Keywords

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Safe storage
  • Firearms
  • Policies and procedures