The RCMP's K9 unit is learning new tricks thanks to six tricked-out ballistic vests that will be purchased by the Mounties.

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This article was published 17/8/2016 (1727 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The RCMP's K9 unit is learning new tricks thanks to six tricked-out ballistic vests that will be purchased by the Mounties.

A $91,000 grant through Manitoba's criminal forfeiture grant program will go towards picking up the new ballistic vests designed to help protect canines in high-risk situations.

Each vest will be outfitted with two cameras and a communication system designed by Winnipeg-based company K9 Storm, which specializes in the creation of tactical K9 body armor and gear.

The camera and communication system allows officers to send a bomb-sniffing dog into an area off-leash and be able to communicate with the canine to tell it where to go. The vests also offer increased protection for the canines.

"It is a GoPro on steroids," said Sgt. Kent MacInnis at a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Winnipeg. "It will tell police and our critical incident commanders that oversea our efforts, what the canine is seeing."

Over $1.8 million in funds from the proceeds of confiscated property was funnelled to the RCMP, Winnipeg police and the province's victims services programs through the grant program.

"The criminal property forfeiture program is a unique opportunity to take money from unlawful activity and put it to good use," said Justice Minister Heather Stefanson. "The grant provides stronger supports for victims of crime, while also investing in new investigative tools, community safety initiatives and improved officer safety throughout Manitoba."

RCMP D Division will receive more than $390,000, the Winnipeg Police Service will receive more than $534,000 and Manitoba’s victims services programs will receive $450,000.

The Mounties will use the funds to buy a $100,000 mobile forensic lab and will spend $3,100 on new surveillance equipment to investigate and monitor high-risk sex offenders, among a host of other goodies.

A portable X-ray machine to determine if a suspicious pack poses a threat will be purchased by Winnipeg police for $108,500. The WPS also plans to spend $62,000 for a portable ion scanner to detect explosives.

Meanwhile, Manitoba's victims services program — which helps victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes — has doled out funds to a variety of community groups, including $45,000 for Ka Ni Kanichihk's Wipiping Away the Tears annual gathering for families of murdered and missing indigenous women. The Salvation Army's Peace of Mind program, for women who have experienced domestic violence will also received $30,000.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca