242 – Duty to Carry Firearms

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I.  Purpose

In accordance with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 2.13, “Duties and Powers,” it is the duty of every peace officer to preserve the peace within the officer’s jurisdiction. To effect this purpose, the officer will use all lawful means.

II.  Policy

All certified peace officers commissioned with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) are authorized to carry an approved firearm both on- and off-duty. Prior to carrying any approved firearm either on- or off-duty, a deputy must have shown proficiency in accordance with HCSO Department Policy #702 – Firearms Control, Qualifications, and Training.

III.  Definitions

Approved Firearm: A firearm authorized for use either on- or off-duty in accordance with HCSO Department Policy #702 – Firearms Control, Qualifications, and Training.

Off-Duty: The status of an employee when he or she is free of the responsibility to perform his or her routine duties.

On-Duty: The status of an employee who is scheduled and present for HCSO activities.

Under the Influence of Alcohol: Any measurable concentration of alcohol in one’s blood, breath, or urine.

IV.  Procedures-Uniformed Certified Personnel

On- or Off-Duty in Uniform:

A.  All weapons and equipment that are worn or used by a deputy in the performance of duty must be approved by the HCSO.

B.  All deputies will carry a fully-loaded firearm when in uniform.

C.  Additional Ammunition: In addition to a fully-loaded firearm, uniformed deputies will carry two complements of extra ammunition (i.e., two speed loaders with six rounds each or two magazines fully loaded).

V.  Procedure – Plain-Clothed Certified Personnel

A.  On-Duty Requirements:

1.  Identification, Badge, and Weapon:

While on-duty, each deputy is required to have a firearm, badge, and HCSO identification in his or her immediate presence. When on or near HCSO premises or while involved in an investigation, deputies attired in plain clothing will carry their badges in a conspicuous manner, but handcuffs and service weapons will be carried in a manner so as not to be provocative or offensive.

2.  For all other public activities, the badge, handcuffs, and service weapon must be inconspicuous at all times.

B.  Off-Duty Requirements:

1.  Identification, Badge, and Weapon:

While off-duty, deputies will carry or have in their immediate possession their issued badge (optional: employee-purchased wallet badge), HCSO identification, and an approved firearm.

2.  Inconspicuous: While not in uniform, deputies will not wear or carry their service weapons in a conspicuous manner or in plain view.

3.  Exception: The requirement to carry a firearm is optional, and this section will not apply when:

a. The deputy is under the influence of alcohol or in an environment where he or she may consume alcohol. The deputy is strongly encouraged to consider the totality of the exigent circumstances and actual need for an immediate response before acting. A deputy taking law enforcement action while impaired may not be considered acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.

b. The deputy is under the influence of medication that impairs his or her physical or mental condition.

c. The deputy is engaged in activities (e.g., sports) that make carrying such identification and weapon impractical or impossible.

d. The deputy is attending educational classes, a place of worship, or while traveling outside the State of Texas.

e. The deputy is injured or in an impaired physical condition that would make correct handling of a firearm difficult and unsafe.

f. The deputy is entering a sterile area of an airport.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

June 26, 2009

August 22, 2008

June 17, 2021

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