Skip to main content

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


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Benjamini Y, Hochberg Y (1995) Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J R Stat Soc Ser B Methodol 57(1):289–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)—Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (n.d.) Retrieved June 10, 2019, from

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online] (2017) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

  4. Coyne-Beasley T, Johnson RM, Charles LE, Schoenbach VJ (2001) Firearm storage practices of officers in a law enforcement agency in the south. Am J Prev Med 21(2):118–123.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Crifasi CK, Doucette ML, McGinty EE, Webster DW, Barry CL (2018) Storage practices of US gun owners in 2016. Am J Public Health 108(4):532–537.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. Guidelines for Using Rural-Urban Classification Systems for Community Health Assessment (2016) Washington State Department of Health.

  7. Rowhani-Rahbar A, Simonetti JA, Rivara FP (2016) Effectiveness of interventions to promote safe firearm storage. Epidemiol Rev 38(1):111–124.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Simonetti JA, Rowhani-Rahbar A, King C, Bennett E, Rivara FP (2018) Evaluation of a community-based safe firearm and ammunition storage intervention. Injury Prevention 24(3):218–223.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Stanley IH, Hom MA, Joiner TE (2016) A systematic review of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. Clin Psychol Rev 44:25–44.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Wintemute GJ (2015) The epidemiology of firearm violence in the twenty-first century United States. Annu Rev Public Health 36(1):5–19.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


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.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher R. DeCou.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



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?

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation


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