1-8 Firearms

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 1/1/2013

Current Revision Approved: 9/11/2020



The purpose of this directive is to establish the policy and procedures for the issuance, care and maintenance of issued and non-issued police weapons. In the interest of public safety and police professionalism, the VCU Police Department herein establishes high performance standards for department personnel who use firearms. 

It is the policy of the VCU Police Department to ensure that officers use only department-issued/authorized weapons. All officers shall be required to qualify with the issued firearm semi-annually. For secondary/off-duty weapons, officers shall receive training on the safe use of the weapon and qualify with the weapon on a semi-annual basis. Scores used for record by the department must be fired on an approved firing range, under the supervision of a certified firearms instructor. The VCU Police Department requires firearm qualification every six months. Officers shall also carefully review the department’s written directive 1-7 Use of Force. Nothing contained in this written directive is intended to conflict with other existing applicable department written directive(s).


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division supervisor to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.



  1. PRIMARY SERVICE WEAPON – The department-issued SIG Arms weapon that is carried and employed as the primary weapon when on-duty or when working off-duty in a police related capacity.
  2. SECONDARY WEAPON/OFF-DUTY – A personally owned handgun that an officer carries off-duty for personal protection.


Issuance of Firearms

  1. The VCUPD Chief Firearms Instructor/Armorer shall be responsible for issuing department firearms to authorized personnel.
  2. Department firearms that become unserviceable or are no longer needed, shall be returned to the VCUPD Chief Firearms Instructor/Armorer.
  3. Department service firearms shall be the SIG Arms Model P229 DAK 9mm.
  4. The Firearms Unit OIC shall maintain records of issuance of department firearms and associated items. The record shall include all of the following information:
    1. Officer’s name and employee code number
    2. Make and model of firearm
    3. Serial number of firearm
    4. Condition of firearm and history of any deficiencies


Security of Firearms

  1. Officers shall be responsible for the care, cleaning and security of department firearms issued to them. Officers shall report any firearm malfunction to their immediate supervisor. Such supervisor shall then immediately notify a VCUPD Firearms Instructor/Armorer.
  2. Officers are NOT authorized to disassemble the issued weapon, beyond field stripping for cleaning, and may not alter the weapon in any way.
  3. Officers shall be instructed in the safe usage of all department-issued weapons’ locking devices and shall be responsible for securing their weapon(s) at all times.


Modification of Firearms

  1. The department armorer is the only person permitted to make modifications to department-issued firearms without approval (see Holsters, Grips and Related Equipment section on page 7 for further details).
  2. No substitutions or any other part or accessory shall be permitted.
  3. Grips may be modified on a case-by-case basis. Any approved grip modification must be installed by the department armorer and the requesting officer must qualify with the grip before being permitted to carry it.
  4. Only normal field stripping/disassembly for cleaning shall be authorized. Officers shall not otherwise disassemble or touch with tools any VCUPD firearm.


Maintenance and Repair of Issued Weapons

  1. A department armorer shall be responsible for all of the following:
    1. Providing for the care and maintenance of department-issued firearms and associated equipment
    2. Repairing all returned malfunctioning firearms
    3. Maintaining records of department firearms and associated items
    4. Inspecting, approving and certifying serviceability of all firearms and holsters to be authorized for on-duty and/or off-duty use
  2. In the event that a department-issued weapon is in need of repair, the weapon shall be referred to a department armorer.
    1. A department armorer shall maintain a permanent record of all weapons in need of repairs, the nature of the repair(s), weapons’ serial numbers, and the name of the officer to whom the weapon is assigned. This record is kept in the department’s firearms database, which is available for inspection in the Firearms folder on the VCUPD share drive. A hard copy of this record is maintained by the Training and Education Division.
    2. Department armorers shall be responsible for the safe storage of all weapons in need of repairs and ensuring that all non-issued weapons are secured at all times.


Primary Service Weapon Guidelines

  1. While on duty, patrol personnel shall carry only the department issued SIG Sauer 9 mm P229 DAK and 147 grain jacketed hollow-point ammunition.
  2. When acting in an official police-related capacity, all on-duty sworn personnel must carry on their person the department-issued primary service weapon. Should adherence to this requirement jeopardize an officer’s safety, exceptions to this requirement may be granted under limited circumstances. The officer must request prior approval through the chain-of-command for an unarmed police enforcement assignment.
  3. When in uniform, each officer is issued and shall carry three (3) magazines, each containing thirteen (13) rounds of ammunition. The weapon shall contain thirteen (13) rounds in the magazine, with a fourteenth round in the chamber. The remaining two (2) magazines shall be carried anytime the officer is on duty.
  4. If it is determined that an officer needs to have a non-traditional weapon for any reason, their immediate supervisor shall write a letter through channels to the Chief of Police explaining the details of the assignment and the weapon that is required. If the non-traditional weapon is approved by the Chief of Police, the weapon must be brought to the department armorer to verify that the weapon is safe and in good working condition. The requesting employee will need to qualify and meet all normal department standards in order to carry the weapon.
  5. Department members shall qualify at least twice annually with the primary service weapon, as specified by the Training and Education Division. If any officer fails to meet the VCUPD minimum qualifying standards during the firing of the state’s mandated qualification day or night course for any authorized weapon, the following steps shall be taken.
    1. If the officer fails to meet the VCUPD minimum qualifying standards after one standard course, the officer will be permitted to fire up to two (2) additional standard courses.
    2. If the officer does not qualify within the initial three (3) standard courses, the officer shall relinquish their primary service weapon and be placed on an administrative assignment for the remainder of their shift. 
    3. The Training and Education Division will schedule the officer to return to the range on their next work day, and the officer will be permitted to attempt two (2) additional qualification courses. If the officer qualifies, they shall return to full-duty status and their primary service weapon will be returned. 
      1. NOTE: In the event that a firearms instructor is unavailable on the subject's next scheduled work day, the subject officer will be assigned administrative duties until they are able to return to the range to complete their two (2) additional standard qualification course attempts.
    4. If the officer fails to qualify, the officer's supervisor will be notified and the officer will be placed on restricted duty and their police powers will be withdrawn. The Training and Education Division shall also issue a Needs Improvement Notice, which will include an improvement plan. The Training and Education Division shall also develop and employ a remedial firearms training program.
    5. Following the time period outlined in the improvement plan, the officer will return to the range. The officer will be permitted two (2) times to qualify on the standard course. If the officer qualifies, they shall return to full-duty status. If the officer fails to qualify, the officer will be subject to disciplinary action, a failing performance evaluation, and/or removal for inability to meet working conditions.
  6. When issued a new department firearm, officers shall be required to re-qualify. Arrangements will be made with the Training and Education Division to qualify on the day of issue, if feasible, or on the first business day following issuance.
  7. Department firearms shall be fully secured in department approved and certified holsters. When confronting potentially high-risk situations, officers may exercise discretion concerning when to release the retention devices on their holster.
  8. Off-duty officers who have consumed alcoholic beverages shall not carry a firearm in a public place under any circumstances.
  9. Prior to carrying them, all officers shall submit firearms and holsters to the chief firearms instructor for inspection, ballistics testing, qualification and approval.
  10. When an off-duty officer anticipates that they will consume alcoholic beverages, or engage in recreational activities where carrying a weapon would be impractical or dangerous, the officer shall not carry the weapon.


Firearms Inspections

  1. During qualification on the range, a firearms instructor or armorer shall thoroughly inspect each firearm and holster.
  2. A shift supervisor shall inspect each officer’s department-issued firearm, holster, magazines, ammunition and leather on a monthly basis, to ensure that they are maintained in a clean and serviceable condition. The inspection shall be documented on the VCUPD-30A form.
  3. Ammunition shall be inspected to ensure that it is of departmental issue, in the correct quantity, and in serviceable condition.



  1. The Patrol Division will be issued two (2) Remington 870 12 gauge, pump action shotguns, with slings and ammunition. Personal shotguns are not authorized.
  2. Ammunition will consist of 12 gauge rifled slugs. When not deployed, the shotgun will be in a cruiserready state, with the stock folded (when applicable), 6 rifled slugs within the weapon’s magazine tube, 6 rifled slugs in the side saddle shell holder with brass facing down, the chamber empty, the bolt forward and the safety on.
  3. Officers shall qualify with the shotgun at least once within each calendar year. If an officer fails to meet the minimum qualifying standards during the firing of the state-mandated qualification course, the officer will not be able to use the shotgun. The officer will be given additional training as soon as possible in order to assist them in meeting the state-mandated requirements. The Training and Education Division will maintain a record of those officers who are qualified to use the shotgun.
  4. The shotguns will be assigned as follows: (1) in the mobile east vehicle and (1) in the mobile west vehicle. When not deployed, the shotguns will be inside the assigned case and located within a secured trunk of the assigned vehicle. When in its carrying case, the shotgun will not have a round chambered. Rounds may be loaded in the magazine.
  5. Shotguns will be accounted for at the start of each shift and inspected monthly by supervision for serviceability. Supervisors shall document this inspection on the VCUPD-52 Vehicle Inspection Sheet. An additional inspection will occur at the range during qualification. When not in active use, all shotguns shall be maintained in a secure area.


Patrol Rifles

  1. VCUPD has selected the Colt M-4 as the department’s authorized patrol rifle. The official duty ammunition is 223 Rem, 62 grain. Practice ammunition is 5.56mm, M193 ball, 62 grain metal case boattail bullet.
  2. Department members will be required to qualify twice annually with the patrol rifle. If the officer fails to meet the minimum qualification standards during the department-mandated qualification course, the officer will not be authorized to check out, carry, or use the patrol rifle. The officer will be given additional training in order to assist the officer in meeting department-mandated requirements.
  3. The Training and Education Division will maintain a record of the officers that are qualified to use the patrol rifle and will be responsible for notifying officers of department-mandated qualifications.
  4. Patrol rifles shall not be deployed during routine patrol response. Officers shall exercise good judgment and discretion in deploying a patrol rifle. Deployment guidelines for the patrol rifle are limited to the following situations:
    1. Active shooter
    2. Suspect heavily armed
    3. Armed suspect wearing body armor
    4. When directed by a supervisor
      1. NOTE: Immediate notification through the officer’s chain-of-command is required any time a patrol rifle is deployed.
  5. Prior to the officer beginning their tour of duty, supervisors shall issue patrol rifles and equipment to a qualified officer. The supervisor and the officer will sign the rifle and equipment out and identify which rifle has been issued. The officer shall ensure all of the following equipment is issued:
    1. One (1) patrol rifle with mounted flashlight
    2. Two (2) thirty round magazines loaded with 56 rounds of department-issued ammunition
    3. Magazine holder and sling
    4. Rifle carrying case
  6. In the event that a patrol rifle is in need of repair, the weapon will be taken out of service and referred to a department armorer. The Firearms Unit shall maintain a permanent record of all rifles in need of repair and the nature of the repairs.
  7. Officers shall perform a visual inspection of the weapon and ensure that all equipment is accounted for upon checking the rifle and equipment out with a supervisor and prior to checking the rifle back in with a supervisor before EOT. In addition, the Firearms Unit shall inspect each patrol rifle and ammunition on a monthly basis. The inspection shall be documented using the VCUPD-30B Patrol Rifle Inspection Sheet. The original report shall be maintained by the supervisor and a copy of the report shall be forwarded to the Training and Education Division for retention.
  8. Officers shall not disassemble the patrol rifle beyond field stripping for cleaning. No unauthorized accessories will be added to the patrol rifle.
  9. The patrol rifle shall be carried in the cruiser ready condition in the trunk of the officer’s patrol vehicle. Cruiser ready condition means:
    1. Safety on
    2. Chamber empty
    3. Bolt closed
    4. Two loaded magazines, 28 rounds each, in the rifle case
      1. NOTE: No adjustments to the optics/sighting systems shall be made
  10. When not in use, patrol rifles will be maintained in a secure location. All rifles will be safely unloaded prior to storage.


Secondary/Off-Duty Firearms Guidelines

  1. If an officer wishes to carry a secondary weapon, or a weapon other than the primary service weapon for off-duty use, regulations that apply to duty firearms shall be the same as for off-duty firearms.
  2. On-duty secondary weapons are strictly prohibited.
  3. Officers wishing to carry an off-duty secondary weapon must complete a VCUPD-70 Registration of Personal Firearms form.
  4. The requesting officer must submit the completed VCUPD-70 Registration of Personal Firearms form, the personal firearm, and the holster to the Firearms Unit for inspection, and qualify with the firearm before a department armorer.
  5. The holster must carry the weapon securely, be concealed from public view, and be fitted with a durable retention system.
  6. The officer is responsible for ensuring that re-qualification and re-inspection of the secondary/off-duty weapon is conducted at least twice annually. The officer shall complete a VCUPD-70 Registration of Personal Firearms form prior to each qualification. If the officer fails to renew their certification when it expires, they will not be authorized to carry the secondary/off-duty weapon until they have re-qualified.
  7. If the officer fails to qualify on the certification course, they will be provided with individual instructions and/or practices in order to identify and correct the deficient behavior using the same outlined procedures available for the use of the primary service weapon.
  8. Officers may not carry firearms when it is socially inappropriate (i.e. - when consuming alcoholic beverages, etc.).
  9. Off-duty firearms shall be carried safely and concealed from public view.
  10. The following may be approved as secondary/off-duty weapons:
    1. Semi-automatic pistols with a de-cocking mechanism, safe action (striker fired) or limited to double action firing capabilities only. The approved calibers for the semi-auto weapon are .380, .357sig, 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP or GAP calibers.
    2. Revolvers with 5 or 6 round capacity. The approved calibers for the revolvers are .38 and .357 magnum.
    3. Speer Gold Dot ammunition is recommended; however, equivalent hollow point metal jacketed ammunition is authorized for use, including the following:
      1. .380 caliber 90 grain
      2. 38 special + P Hollow Point 135 grain
      3. 9mm Hollow Point 124 or 147 grain
      4. .357 Sig or .357 Magnum Hollow Point 125 grain
      5. .40 S&W Hollow Point 155 grain
      6. .45 ACP or GAP Hollow Point 185 grain
    4. The officer must qualify wearing their normal on-duty attire and carrying the weapon in the same manner as when they are working. Holsters for the secondary weapon must be pre-approved by the Firearms Unit. The holster must carry the weapon securely, be concealed from public view, and be fitted with a durable retention device.


Holsters, Grips and Related Equipment

  1. Any non-issued holsters, magazine pouches, rubberized slip-on grips, ammunition carriers and other weapon parts or accessories or non-traditional weapon carrying devices (fanny packs, etc.) may only be used if approved by the Training and Education Division.
  2. Officers are issued two (2) spare magazines and shall carry them at all times while in uniform. All spare magazines will always be fully loaded. Under no circumstances will officers use any magazines other than SIG Arms magazines. Magazines shall be carried in their pouches, with the butt plate facing upward or sideways. Magazine pouches shall be worn on the front of the duty belt at all times.
  3. Unless the assignment requires the carrying of a firearm in a non-traditional manner, all firearms must be carried in an approved holster. The carrying of a firearm in a non-traditional manner requires prior supervisor approval.
  4. Non-issued holsters must be of durable quality and should be securely attached to the body, with a safety snap or other acceptable provision to ensure the weapon is securely held in the holster.
  5. Approved shoulder holsters will be limited to the type where the handgun carriage causes the barrel of the gun to point down or back and the trigger guard is covered so that the finger is prevented from resting on the trigger while the weapon is being drawn or holstered. Plainclothes officers who carry their primary service weapon on-duty in a shoulder holster must utilize the shoulder holster when qualifying with their primary service weapon.


Light-Duty Officers/Officers on Extended Leave

No officer on light-duty or extended leave shall carry a firearm. All light-duty officers will be excused from firearms qualification. Officers on light-duty or extended leave of six months or longer must make arrangements with the VCUPD Chief Firearms Instructor/Armorer to qualify with their firearm before returning to regular duty.

Prior to an officer’s extended leave from duty of more than seven (7) days or upon an officer’s request and approval for light-duty assignment, the officer must submit their department-issued firearm, any other department-issued equipment, and badge to their immediate supervisor and complete and sign the VCUPD84 form. The completed VCUPD-84 form and items must be submitted to the Assistant Chief of Support Services for tracking purposes.


Firearms Records

  1. The Firearms Unit shall submit all firearms scores to the Training and Education Division immediately after each qualification period. The Training and Education Division shall ensure that all officers are qualified at all times.
  2. Officers shall submit their VCUPD-70 Registration of Personal Weapons forms to the Training and Education Division upon qualification.
  3. The Training and Education Division shall maintain all firearms records.


Firearms Discharge Procedures

  1. If an on-duty officer discharges their firearm or any time an officer is assaulted with a firearm, the officer shall immediately notify their supervisor.
  2. The involved officer shall prepare an administrative report detailing the incident. If force is used, procedures can be found in 1-7 Use of Force.
  3. The officer’s immediate supervisor shall review and sign the report, regardless of whether or not the officer is injured, and submit it through the chain to the Chief. The supervisor shall also take photographs of the officer’s and the suspect’s physical condition, including clothing and any cuts and bruises, if applicable.
  4. If an officer discharges their weapon while off-duty, they shall immediately notify their supervisor.


Related Forms and Documentation

  1. VCUPD-30B Uniform, Equipment, Service Weapon & Ammunition Condition Inspection Report
  2. VCUPD-70 Registration of Personal Weapon
  3. Administrative IBR
  4. VCUPD Firearms Qualification Score Sheets
  5. VCUPD-84 Equipment Submission Form Prior to Light-Duty Assignment or Extended Leave


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

1/01/2013 - 1-8 Firearms

4/16/2015 - 1-8 Firearms

3/22/2018 - 1-8 Firearms

10/31/2019 - 1-8 Firearms