Home Career Retired Police as Force Multipliers: The LEOSA Effect
Retired Police as Force Multipliers: The LEOSA Effect

Retired Police as Force Multipliers: The LEOSA Effect


By Jeremy Nikolow, alumnus, Criminal Justice, American Military University and
Anthony Galante, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University

On November 9, 2015, a retired Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Kellam made national headlines by helping catch a bank robber, David Duong. After witnessing the robbery from the drive-through teller line, Kellam chased Duong into a nearby neighborhood, catching and beginning to grapple with him. As Duong reached for a gun, Kellam drew his own gun and shot Duong several times, leading to Duong’s capture. Kellam’s training and experience helped apprehend an armed and dangerous felon.

Stories like this demonstrate that retired police officers can be a huge asset in helping to protect the public. Fortunately, Kellam was able to recognize the in-progress robbery and his protector mindset kicked in to apprehend the suspect.

The Value of Retired Police

Retired police officers can be force multipliers when it comes to protecting communities. To enable them to continue using their training and experience, federal legislation exists to allow retired officers to carry concealed firearms almost anywhere in the United States. Let’s examine the legislation that gives Kellam, and most other retired police officers, the right to carry a concealed firearm.

Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act

H.R. 218, also known as the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act (LEOSA), was signed by President George W. Bush in July 2004. This legislation exempts current and retired law enforcement officers from most local and state conceal carry laws and allows them to carry in almost every jurisdiction. However, there are still several exceptions to this rule so let’s take a closer look at several of LEOSA’s guidelines.

Arguably the most important piece of LEOSA lies in determining to whom these exemptions actually apply. In order to benefit from these exemptions, each current and/or retired police officer must go through a vetting process that determines them to be qualified. Law enforcement officers who do not meet the criteria are not considered qualified and therefore cannot operate under these exemptions or use them as a criminal defense during any legal proceedings that result from unauthorized carrying.

Qualified officers can either be active or retired. A qualified active officer must be a current employee of a government agency who:

  • is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law;
  • has statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under the Uniform Code of Military Justice;
  • is authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
  • is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency which could result in suspension or loss of police powers;
  • meets the standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
  • is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance, and
  • is not prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

A qualified retired police officer must be one who:

  • has separated from service in good standing with a government agency as a law enforcement officer for an aggregate of ten (10) years or more or separated from such an agency due to a service-connected disability after completing any applicable probationary period of such service;
  • has not been disqualified by a medical professional as unfit for service because of mental health issues;
  • was authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law;
  • had statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under the Uniform Code of Military Justice;
  • is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
  • is not prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

In addition, LEOSA includes the following information in its definition of which officers are qualified under this legislation:

  • Amtrak Police Department
  • Federal Reserve Police Department
  • Any law enforcement officer of the executive branch of the federal government

Another important section of LEOSA outlines what types of documentation these officers need to have with them when they carry a concealed firearm. Active officers are only required to carry a photo ID issued by the department that they work for.

Retired police officers must also carry an official agency photo ID, which states their retirement status, along with documentation which certifies that they have met the active police agency standards for firearm proficiency within the past 12 months. It is important to note that this certification should reflect proficiency with the same type of firearm that the retired officer carries. No other IDs or permits are required for concealed carry.

Apart from being qualified and carrying the proper paperwork, here are a few other important exceptions of LEOSA:

  • Machine guns, silencers, or explosives are not included in LEOSA’s definition of “firearm”
  • High-capacity magazines are not allowed, per the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Officers are not exempt from federal regulations, meaning they cannot carry onto aircraft or other “common carriers,” federal buildings or property, national parks, etc.
  • Officers are not exempt from state laws that prohibit carrying onto state or local property or private properties that prohibit firearms.

Agencies should support retired officers who meet these minimum requirements to carry concealed. After all, having well-trained, covertly armed law enforcement veterans on the street can be beneficial to public safety.

About the Authors:

SWATJeremy Nikolow is a police officer with the Daytona Beach Police Department, Florida, and adjunct faculty with colleges and universities. His law enforcement career began in 2005 and has involved several areas of patrol, investigations, SWAT, and specialized operations. Jeremy presently serves as a field training officer and SWAT operator. He graduated from American Military University in 2012 earning his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.

Anthony Galante_cropped_v2Anthony Galante is part-time faculty member of Criminal Justice at American Military University. A former SWAT officer and retired law enforcement officer with more than 10 years of service, Anthony holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as well as being a past graduate of American Military University (MA Homeland Security 2012, MA Criminal Justice 2011). In addition to university teaching, Anthony is the Director of Training Services at the Unmanned Safety Institute, which is a strategy and technology firm delivering consulting, training, and analytics for clients in commercial industries and law enforcement seeking to integrate UAS into their daily operations.


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  1. Fellas,
    Thanks for this, HR 218 was an important bill and your point about force multipliers is well made. I wonder if it would have been passed (or signed into law) in today’s environment. However, you might want to review the criteria you list. Are you saying that qualified officers must meet each of these criteria? Not sure too many on-board guys meet the UCMJ criteria. Also, you might want to double check the “was refused…because of mental health issues” criteria for us retired guys.

    I was the PFI in Indianapolis when this was implemented and we were forbidden from helping our retired Agents get their required annual qual. It was a pretty contentious issue between the 56 PFI’s and the FTU at Quantico.

    In all good article, just needs a bit of proofreading.

    Chuck Smith, FBI (retired), former SWAT Team Leader and Principal Firearms Instructor.

    1. Thank you for your reply, Chuck. LEOSA requires an identification from your agency that shows you meet the requirements as a retired officer. Also required is that you did not separate for mental health reasons. Perhaps the wording makes it a bit ambiguous, but that’s essentially what the guidelines are.

      In 2013 the bill was amended to include military officers, which must meet qualifications under the UCMJ.

      Lastly, even if your local agency won’t qualify you yearly with your firearm, there are other approved places that will. I would recommend checking out the NRA’s website; it would appear to be of great help to you.

  2. They didn’t go far enough. You still can’t purchase a weapon without a ccw permit from the county which he or she resides in. The way I read this is we still have to go thru training every 12 months. My wife, most of my family, and several of my friends have ccw permits and they do not have to go thru training every year. What’s up with that, when a retired officer carried a weapon daily thru out his or her career, with continued education and range training?

    1. Thanks for your reply, Mike. Think of the liability an agency would assume by letting their officers carry around department ID cards and not requiring qualifications. The first person that was accidentally hit by a bullet would be the first to sue. I can appreciate the disparity you have brought to light, but LEOs are always held to higher standards.

    2. The reason retired officers have to qualify annually is due to the liability being assumed by their former PD which grants them the ability to carry still.

      The PD wants to be able to say we qualify them annually and they did what they were supposed to do. We didn’t notice any medical issues that would have precluded them from carrying.

      Ive thought about just getting a chl for my state so I don’t have to worry about annual quals at my PD, especially if I move out of state.

  3. Police officers with 25 yrs. service and retire in good standing should not need to
    To carry a ccw permit.
    They should not be required to carry the same gun they qualified with, this is totally
    Against HB 218.
    Required retirement I D should be sufficient.

  4. I think the second bullet in retired officer is mis-stated;

    •was refused an agency identification card because of a qualified medical professional deeming him/her to be unfit for service because of mental health issues

    was refused?

    1. Paul,

      Essentially LEOSA requires the agency ID and that the separation was not due to mental health-related issues.

      The wording may make it hard to distinguish.

    1. Robert sorry for the delayed response. Just contact your local Sheriff’s office and they can qualify you. Just make sure you have your retired Identification Card and positive identification with you from your old job. Also ask them if their agency requires anything else. Good Luck stay safe!


  5. I agree about loosening the annual re-qual for retirees. It is a PITA to qualify with a semi-auto and a revolver each year as I carry both daily, but I do it because the option is worth it to me. Even changing re-qual to every other year with a decent score would be helpful.

    It would be great if they would relax the rules on where we can carry regarding local government buildings and “rob me” signs. As with CWP, the “rob me” signs should only matter if the business owner discovers you are carrying and tells you to leave, at which point applicable trespass laws would come into play if you refuse. Excrptions to magazine capacity needs to apply, also. We can thank gun-hating Ted Kennedy (may he RIH) for a lot of the unnecessary encumbrances in an otherwise good law.

  6. I bipassed the HB 218 requirements by obtaining a ccw permit in Georgia. All I needed was a fingerprint records check and my carry permit is good for 5 years. I have a limited number of locations for the annual qualifying. I visit a range frequently and keep myself skilled.

  7. I have the Kentucky CCDW Permit along with my former department’s LEOSA credentials. Some of you, or your liberal state regulations, are reading way too much into what was supposed to be a simple law to increase public safety in the U.S. The key is to CARRY and do so in a safe manner. If I’m outside of my home I have at least my SW Shield on me. If I’m in my car I have a secondary weapon.

    All of us that are retired should keep an extra set of eyes out for the guys working the street. My new job requires limited travel and when I’m on the road I always slow down and watch the back of the guys on traffic stops, etc. Just be smart about it. You could save a life by just being around a bad situation. Strength in numbers!

  8. Hello Jeremy,

    Thanks for a very informative article. I am a firearms instructor for my PD in northern NH, and I conduct qualifications twice a year for retired LEOs under HR 218. I refer to them specifically as Force Multipliers. I believe, as they do that, that annual qualification is necessary and by no means places undue constraints upon them.

    Questions: “High capacity magazines are not allowed…” Is this a nation-wide stipulation? I thought this was just a state-mandated regulation, as in Mass and NY. Are we telling retirees that even though a state allows its citizens to carry high-capacity mags, they can not do so because of their retired LEO status?

    You state that the Bill was amended in 2013 to include military officers. Article 7 of the UCMJ is a little vague when it comes to those being authorized to “apprehend or arrest.” It specifically states all officers are allowed to “quel quarrels, frays, and disorders…” with no mention of arresting powers. Under Article 9 it lists every commissioned officer as being authorized to order an arrest. Can you clarify? Are all commissioned officers authorized to carry under HR218, or does this only apply to military police? Can you also verify that this power does not extend to retired military officers, or just extends to retired military police?

    Observation: Not being allowed to carry in a federal building is counterproductive in my humble opinion. I brief my retirees in the Use of Force class they must receive that they are not allowed to carry in any federal building, and I always get a lot of grief for it. We tell them it’s OK to intervene and stop a bank robbery, but we then have them remove their weapon before dropping off a package at a post office? Makes no sense to this officer. We either trust them, or we do not.

    Thanks again for your work.

  9. My former agency WILL NOT issue “retired” credentials and will not provide any sort of verification of years of service specifically for national concealed carry so I know of no way to benefit from H.R. 218. As far as I know nothing in H.R. 218 “requires” agencies to to do so and this has been confirmed by the courts. Does anyone know a way around this?

  10. As previously asked by “Bluto” in the reply section-
    What is your basis for the bullet point about magazines and the ATF?
    I have carefully reviewed LEOSA and see no mention of either.

  11. What is the point of the separated after 10+ plus years in the aggregate? What single agency is going to certify previous agency experience and issue the required I.D. card?

    1. I can not get the CA DOJ DLE to issue me an identification. I had 9 years 9 months and then a year and 9 months with CA DOJ after I resigned due to a REALLY bad boss (who was later convicted of crimes). So I have an aggregate of 10+ years. I want to carry and in CA it’s next to impossible to get a CCW. If you live in area where you can get one it may cost you up to $1000 for 2 years. A LEOSA ID will last much longer…..but your right George, CA DOJ is fighting it every step of the way…..

  12. With all of the officers now being “targeted” across our nation, I too think that the exemptions need to be removed from H.R.-218. I agree with Mr. Lance Woods. To me, it was stupid to have the exemptions placed on law enforcement officers as to where we can legally carry. Each of us have received many more hours of training than non-law enforcement folks. Yet, we are placed into the same group (non-leo) as they are on having restrictions telling us where we can and can not carry. Even someone with a carry permit may be able to carry where a L.E.O. can not off duty. The restrictions undermine the safety of all officers. Especially, the one giving a property owner the ability to “disarm” any L.E.O. by requiring him/her to remove their firearm in order to gain access to the property, or business. I am aware of an incident, in which a retired F.B.I. agent had an employee of a business laugh and created a scene in front of customers when he attempted to “disarmed” a retired F.B.I. Special Agent that was going to purchase about $3,600.00 in home furnishings. The agent and his wife asked to speak with the store manager. The employee refused the request. The agent and his wife left the business. Later, both of them enrolled in one of my concealed carry classes to obtain their permits. He stated they did go to a different business and purchased the furnishings. I’ve been certified, and working as a reserve officer in Oklahoma since 1995. I am also certified by the state as a concealed carry instructor for the classes. I, also do re-quals for smaller departments, or for single officers as needed. This also includes officers which are required to re-qual yearly under the H.R.-218 requirements. I can help officers in my area (Washington, Ok.) stay current on that requirement if they wish to contact me. Contact me at concealedcarrypermitclasses@gmail.com and I will reply to your request. The restrictions that are included in H.R.-218 can, or may cost the life of an officer carrying off duty when the officer is required to “disarm”. Just my thoughts. Semper Fi. ‘Nam Marine. M.O.S. 2531 1st Bat. 4th Marines.

  13. I have found the NRA Range here in Fairfax, VA to be very helpful with retired LEOs getting free class time with legal updates, AND range requalification each year. Thank you. Retired 30 year police Vet.: city, county, state, and federal. Be skilled. Be safe. Be prepared. Rest assured; ISIS is here already.

  14. Thanks for this article. I am recently retired from my municipal department of 25+ years and have taken a job at a private university as a police officer. I have both a lifetime Indiana lifetime to carry handgun permit and my retiree ID through my former department and my current ID from my current agency. I qualify with my former department annually. I carry a gun every day and when I drive and travel two with me. I hope I am as covered as I can be.

  15. Don Fitzpatrick, you seem to be soo right. You should start a series of petitions sent to all Police Dept.s you can find and once collected, send them to your Congressman.
    I myself just get my State CCW / CPL, And they check to carry in excempted locations box.

  16. Sen. Leahy ( D. ). Sponsor of the 2010 (?) Amendment may have had JUST THAT (disarmament ). In mind when he wrote the amendment. Think about it. Naaw, he, a Demoncrat wouldnt Think of That.

  17. I retired honorably from a CA. P.D. after 35 years. My retired ID card (with HR.218 CCW) is renewed every five years. I joined the Arizona Rangers and had to qualify under AZPOST standards at least once a year. We serve as an L.E. auxiliary for State, County & Municipal agencies upon their requests. Force Multipliers are way overdue in all states in light of our national condition with active shooters, border invasions and declining respect for law enforcement. I support the Act, but wish it was more extensive in affording retired officers peace officer protection while taking any action as Dep. Michael Kellam did.

  18. I was a Constable in the state of Alabama, and had full arrest powers and had 11 years of law enforcement service. I had to resign because of health issues not related to mental illness but lung disease which was partly due to exposure to serving arrest warrants and search warrants where meth labs were in use. I am now a reserve deputy Sheriff in my country. Do I qualify as a retired police officer?

  19. In my state we have police officers which work for cities. Sheriff Deputies which work for counties. State police who work for the state, and Special Conservators of the Peace (SCOP).

    Troopers, Deputies, and Police meet all LEOSA criteria. SCOP however are a different thing. They have statutory arrest authority, authorized to carry a gun, and meet state and Agency firearm standards that are equal to and sometimes higher than the other 3. All SCOP are common law definition employees of a gift Agency. However some are statutory gov employees and some are statutory private employees.

    Recently, the state passed a statute that says no SCOP, no matter their employer, government or private, do not count under LEOSA.

    I recently spoke with someone who works in a federal prosecutors office in a private conversation. They told me that States have no jurisdiction to determine if change eligibility criteria that are set forth in a federal statute.

    I’m looking to see if this is an understanding shared by the author or other readers.


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