I am a veteran police officer and about 5 years ago, my wife and I were enjoying an average Saturday afternoon when we decided to grab a quick bite to eat. We walked into a national-chain sandwich shop inside a shopping plaza and stood in line. There were only three other people in line and, after looking at the menu for a few minutes I realized that there was no one behind the counter. I asked the guy in front of me if anybody was working here today and he told me that he had been waiting in line for almost 10 minutes and he hadn’t seen any employees. I told my wife to go check the women’s bathroom while I checked the men’s room, but both were empty. By now the couple that were first in line decided to leave. With just the three of us waiting at the counter, trying to order a sandwich, I thought to myself that this was kind of odd. During the lunch rush hour most sandwich shops have at least two employees working, and even if both of them decided to take a smoke break at the same time, they would have had more than enough time to do so and be back to work.

After being in the store for a few more minutes, I knew something wasn’t right. The gentleman in front of us called out very loudly, “Hello, is anybody working here? Hello, hello?” several times with no response. With that, he left and now it was just my wife and I standing in front of the register. At this point my wheels started to spin. Was the store closed and someone just forgot to lock the door? Did the clerk’s boyfriend break up with her and she is currently crying on his shoulder in the parking lot? Or did this place just get robbed and now the clerks are bound and gagged inside the walk-in freezer?

As I was standing there inside the empty store it just hit me, “Something is not right.” I immediately told my wife, in that special tone of voice that cops use when they are ultra-serious, “Go wait in the car and call 911 if I am not outside in the next 5 minutes.” Back then I carried a GLOCK 27 and my badge inside of a fanny pack, which just screamed, “Hello, I am a police officer.” Once my wife was safely out of the store, I stepped to the side of the counter, which allowed for the best view to the back of the restaurant. I was able to lean over the counter and was shocked to see a little piece of shoulder and a pair of shoes sticking out behind a wall. With the hairs on the back of my neck standing at full attention, I moved to the best cover position available and with my gun and badge in hand I made a loud announcement, “Police—show me your hands.”

There was no response, so again I shouted, “I am an armed police officer and I can see you hiding around the corner, step out slowly.” To my surprise, out stepped a very heavyset sandwich artist complete with his issued uniform. I lowered my gun and told him that I feared that the store was being robbed; I then asked him what in the hell was going on.  He apologized sincerely and told me that another employee had called in sick, so he was going to have to work the whole shift solo. He said he just wanted to take a little break and decided to just hide out in the back of the store and not take any orders for a little while. He claimed that customers kept coming in and when one of them started to yell out loud, he became upset and refused to acknowledge them.

Just a few months prior to this incident taking place, I read an article in GW/LE about off-duty survival and the importance of being able to identify yourself as a police office in an off-duty situation.  What was recommended was adding a small strap to your badge clip to create a loop, which you could hook around your fingers and would make your badge face the same way your muzzle would be pointing. This incident was the one and only time I had the occasion to present my badge in this manner. The badge clip strap works great and I have told dozen of other cops about it over the years.
— DK, Internet

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