INDEPENDENCE, Ky. — Oftentimes we hear police officers say they hope to never have to fire their weapon in the line of duty. They prepare, regardless, just in case.
Former Kenton County Police Chief Bill Dorsey managed to live out that notion, never firing a shot while on duty in his 41-year career in law enforcement.
“I made up my mind early in my career that I did not want to take a life,” said Dorsey, 66, a Covington native now living in Crestview Hills.
But make no mistake, Dorsey is not anti-gun. Along with his long career in law enforcement, he is also a safety instructor and a builder of precision .45-caliber pistols. He appreciates guns and is an enthusiast, he said, but preaches responsibility for gun owners.
On a recent visit to Shooter's Supply and Range in Independence, Dorsey shared some strict rules of the range: “Safety, safety, safety,” and “never point a gun any direction except where you intend to shoot.”
On this day, Dorsey carried a well-packed duffel bag with three .22-caliber pistols and two of his personal .45s, plus assorted ammunition and tools.
Dorsey said he is for safety, not fear. He knows how destructive one of his .45s can be. At home, his guns are unloaded and locked in a safe.
At the range, he methodically laid out the weapons. He loaded the seven-round magazine for the .45, then the eight-rounder for the .22. Targets can be set electronically at different distances. Dorsey set it to 7 meters, or 21 yards; that’s the average police confrontation distance, he said.
“This little button is the safety, which is on in the 'up' position,” said Dorsey, describing the operations of a black .22. “Push down and it is ready to fire.”
Dorsey stepped up, prepared, aimed and fired a .45 – seven quick rounds, pretty much dead center, perhaps a bit high right.
“It’ll be better when I put the sights on it,” he said, smiling.
Dorsey grew up at 2210 Sterrett Ave. in Covington, worked his way up to Covington’s acting chief of police, then became Kenton County’s chief from 2000 to 2006. After that, he was Kenton County Fiscal Court’s director of public safety from 2006 to 2011. An elected commissioner in Crestview Hills, Dorsey also earned a master’s in public administration in 1994 from Northern Kentucky University .
In Shooters’ lobby, there is a sign-up sheet for a concealed carry deadly weapons course. Dorsey offered advice to anyone considering going that route.
“Before people obtain a weapon for personal or family safety, they need to ask this question: Are you willing to take a life to protect your life or a loved one?
“If they cannot answer the question, they shouldn’t obtain a weapon.”
For Dorsey, who never fired a shot in the line of duty, there was no gray area, no wiggle room on that question.