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This article was published 25/2/2017 (1511 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON — For the first time, Brandon Police Service will provide protective body armour for general patrol officers.
The 2017 police department budget includes $15,000 for the equipment.
Police Chief Ian Grant said the decision was made as a result of an increasing number of incidents involving high-powered weaponry across the country as well as in Brandon.
"There was definitely a lot of discussion in the police community about having regular general patrol members needing access to a level of protection that exceeds what they would wear on a normal day-to-day basis," Grant said.
He noted the new hard-body armour will not be part of an officer’s personal equipment, but rather shared within the department on calls relating to high-powered weapons.
"This is something that would be utilized by any member in patrol who happens to be assigned to a car that’s equipped with this body armour," Grant said.
"It would be shared among front-line officers just to give them that added level of protection and safety."
Grant mentioned the tragedy that occurred in Moncton, N.B., in 2014 when five RCMP officers were shot by 24-year-old Justin Bourque — three officers were killed and two were severely injured. In Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005, four RCMP officers were shot and killed when they were executing a property seizure.
Brandon saw an increase in gun violence in 2016, with a number of shootings involving high-calibre weapons. In one incident an assault rifle was used to fire shots into an east-end home. In another altercation, a man fired a sawed-off shotgun and the pellets grazed a woman’s head. There was a shooting on 10th Street almost one week after the shotgun incident. In September 2016, a man was shot in the chest after there was a report of multiple gunshots in the area.
"We were starting to notice more incidents where we were seeing high-powered weaponry either being used or people having possession of it," Grant said.
There has also been an increase in weapons and ammunition found during Brandon-area vehicle stops.
The only hard body armour budgeted for in the past has been for the Tactical Response Unit, Grant said.
— Brandon Sun