The Coast Guard has announced its credentialing program for the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA). The act allows those who are eligible to carry a personally-owned, concealed firearm where firearms are allowed under the law.
“LEOSA was originally signed into law in 2004 allowing certain law enforcement officers – both current and former – to carry their concealed personal firearm for personal protection, in a civilian capacity,” said Chief Warrant Officer Lee Conroy, the program manager for the Coast Guard’s LEOSA credentialing program. “This act is in line with states’ concealed weapons permits, meaning when you apply for a concealed weapons permit in your state, there are specific requirements that must be met prior to receiving that credential to carry a concealed firearm.”
The law was recently amended, mandating that law enforcement agencies - including the Coast Guard - provide a LEOSA program for members and retirees.
What this specifically means for Coast Guard members, is that in alignment with 18 United States Code, sections 926B and 926C, LEOSA applies to current law enforcement officers (LEO) and supervisors, or those who have retired or separated from the Coast Guard. "For example, I am a qualified boarding officer and police officer, but I'm not currently in a boarding officer or police officer role," Conroy said. "But since I have more than 10 years of experience, I can still apply for a credential."
Any U.S. Coast Guard LEO who meets all requirements as stated in the March 2021 Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA) Credentialing ALCOAST 091-21 may apply for one of two credentials:
- A “Coast Guard LEOSA LEO” LEOSA Credential (926b) or
- A “U.S. Coast Guard LEOSA Retired/Separated LEO” LEOSA Credential (926c).
Who can apply
- Boarding Officers who have graduated from Basic Boarding Officer School or Boarding Officer Practical Course, to include legacy PQS boarding officers; have the Operations Boarding Officer (OPSBO) qualification code assigned; and are currently certified as a boarding officer.
- Coast Guard Police Department Officers (CGPD) who have graduated from a Department of Defense (DoD) Military Police Course or other agency equivalent; and who are currently certified as a CGPD Officer.
- Coast Guard Security Forces (CGSF) who have graduated from a DoD Military Police Course other agency equivalent; and who are currently certified as a CGSF Officer.
- Special Agents in the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) who have graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) or other agency equivalent, and are currently certified as a Coast Guard Special Agent.
- LE supervisors must be authorized to carry a government issued personal defense weapon (GI-PDW) for the purpose of law enforcement in accordance with the Ordnance Manual, COMDTINST M8000.2 (series). First line supervisors also have other stipulations in order to apply for a Coast Guard LEOSA Credential.
- They previously certified as a LEO by satisfying the requirements stated above or;
- Retired or separated from the Coast Guard in good standing as a LEO, served as a LEO for a total of 10 years and;
- Satisfied the requirements of paragraph 3.c. of the March 2021 Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA) Credentialing ALCOAST 091-21.
First line supervisors of LE activities are as follows:
- Commanding officers or officers-in-charge of a designated LE unit identified in Chapter 1 of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Manual (MLEM), COMDTINST M16247.1 (series) and supervising at least one full-time boarding team; or
- Sector chiefs of response and chiefs of enforcement (to include former Group operations officers) with law enforcement oversight duties; or
- Chiefs of police or deputy chief of police or command security officer (MLES) of CGPDs or CGSFs; or
- Designated unit law enforcement officers, operations officers, and operation petty officers with law enforcement oversight; or
- Maritime Security Response Team, Tactical Law Enforcement Team and Maritime Safety and Security Team operations officers.
Applying as a retired or separated member
If you are applying for a Coast Guard LEOSA Credential as a retired or separated member, under 18 U.S.C. § 926C, you must have the following:
- Within the past year, you must demonstrate your ability with a firearm as stated in the U.S. Coast Guard Firearms Training & Evaluation – Pistol (FTE-P) Instructor’s Guide. Specifically, you must meet the minimal scoring requirements of the Marksmanship Program Management Section Combat Pistol Target (MPMS). As an active duty or a reserve member separated from a law enforcement position, a supervisor (as defined above), or a separated/retired from service member, this must be completed at your expense through a state certified instructor or equivalent; and
- A qualified medical professional has not determined that you would be unqualified to carry a firearm due to relating mental health issues. Nor have you been prohibited under federal law to receive or possess a firearm.
How to apply
Once you have determined that you are eligible to apply for your Coast Guard LEOSA Credential, you will need to gather the following information:
- An electronic copy of an FBI Identity History Summary Check, often referred to as a criminal history record. You will need to use https://www.fbi.gov/services. No other criminal history records will be accepted; and
- An electronic photograph with the same requirements for a passport photo as defined by the United States Department of State for all United States passports; and
- A copy of your state driver’s license or state-issued identification card; and
- Certificate of graduation or Direct Access printout for Coast Guard Basic Boarding Officer or Boarding Officer Practical Course; or, DoD or Agency equivalent Police Course; or FLETC Course; and
- Letter of certification as a Boarding Officer, CGPD Officer, CGSF Officer or CGIS Special Agent which identifies that you have met all qualification requirements of the position; and
- Firearms qualification from the Coast Guard (18 U.S.C. § 926B applicants only) or a state certified instructor (18 U.S.C. § 926C applicants only); and
- Recommendation memo from your unit commanding officer or officer in charge (926B and currently enlisted 926C applicants only); or
- If you are retired, a legible copy of the your DD Form 214.; and
- Documentation which clearly demonstrates that before separating from the Coast Guard you served as a law enforcement officer as defined above for a total of 10 years or more. (18 U.S.C. § 926C applicants only).
Once you have gathered all of the requirements to apply for your credential, you will need to submit your application on the secure, electronic, website the Coast Guard has contracted to process Coast Guard credentials. Your information will be processed and verified, and then forwarded with a determination of eligibility to the Coast Guard Office of Law Enforcement Policy (CG-MLE-2) for review. The Office of Law Enforcement Policy will make the final determination to approve or disapprove the application. If approved, the agency contractor will issue the credential to the applicant.
Once you are credentialed, there are restrictions that you need to be aware of and adhere to.
“This law allows law enforcement officers and former law enforcement officers to apply to carry a concealed personal weapon,” Conroy said. “Anyone who receives their credential is not granted law enforcement authorities, nor does it create any rights, privileges or benefits to the holder. You must still abide by the federal, state, and local statues regarding carrying privately owned and concealed weapons on those properties where it states weapons are prohibited. Coast Guard base commanders determine their individual unit policies, and federal law prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon unless permission is specifically given. Finally, this policy does not limit any state law in place.”
Conroy says if the law stipulates that weapons are prohibited, as a LEOSA-Credentialed person, you do not have the authority to carry your concealed weapon in those places. For example, the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995 (18 U.S.C. §922(q)), prohibits the possession of a firearm within a school zone – except if you are there in your official Coast Guard law enforcement duty.
“Please keep in mind, that if you are LEOSA Credentialed, issuance of this permit does not alleviate you from understanding the local firearms regulations in your jurisdiction,” Conroy said. “You must know and follow all state and local firearms regulations in this regard. Firearms are strictly prohibited on any state or local government property, installation, building, base or park. A LEOSA Credential, similar to a concealed to carry permit, still means that you have to abide by the federal, state, and local firearm laws.”
Once you are issued a LEOSA Credential, it will be valid for five years from the date of issuance. If you receive your LEOSA Credential as an active duty Coast Guard law enforcement officer and then transfer to a non-law enforcement unit or billet, you will need to surrender your credential and obtain a retired or separated credential if eligible.
To renew your credential, you can apply for renewal within 60 days of the LEOSA expiration. Fingerprint cards are not required for renewal applications.
You must relinquish your credential to your unit executive officer or your executive petty officer if one of the following occurs:
- Your annual firearm qualification lapses, or
- If you become classified under one of the federally prohibited persons from possessing a firearm
- or you PCS from your unit that you are currently certified as an LEO,
These surrendered credentials will be mailed to CG-MLE-2, or mail it directly to CG-MLE-2 (retirees) at:
Attn: LEOSA Program Manager
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE STOP 7516
Washington, DC 20593-7516
Renew an expired credential
If your credential expires, you will have to go through the same process as you did in order to initially become credentialed.
If your LEOSA credential is lost or stolen, you will have to follow the directions on the LEOSA website to reapply. You will also have to notify your unit command and Office of Law Enforcement Policy as soon as possible.