The shooting of a Calgary police officer during a dramatic series of events in Abbeydale on Tuesday has highlighted the need for added protection for front-line officers.
Const. Jordan Forget was shot while responding to a robbery-turned-attempted-carjacking-turned-attempted-break-in. He was wounded twice; once in the arm and once in the chest.
Global News has learned he was wearing a soft body armour vest — which is part of a regular Calgary police officer’s uniform — when he was struck by a bullet. Calgary police, however, say a bullet did not hit Forget’s vest.
“As far as we know, the member injured yesterday was not hit anywhere that hard body armour would have covered, so these vest would not have prevented his injuries,” a Calgary Police Service (CPS) spokesperson said.
Calgary Police Association President Les Kaminski says if the bullet had hit the vest, it would have pierced right through it.
“Hard armour is really the only way that we can stop some of the rifle rounds that are out, especially in Calgary. We have a lot of hunters and there are a lot of rifles,” Kaminski told Global News on Wednesday.
“We would be in complete favour of every officer having a set of those hard plates.”
Calgary police confirmed they have ordered hard armour vests.
“The safety of our officers is always a priority for the service. We are working to distribute hard body armour for our front-line personnel, which includes both ballistic plates and carriers,” a statement from the CPS said.
“Funding was secured at the end of 2016 and the Request for Proposals went out to body armour vendors in April 2017,” CPS spokesperson Corwin Odland said. “The body armour samples provided by a number of vendors were tested throughout mid-2017. In the fall of 2017, a vendor was selected and the contract was finalized at the end of the year.”
“The ballistic plates arrived in January and the carriers for the plates arrived last week. Assembling the body armour sets is expected to be completed this week and they will be distributed to district offices next week.
“Our commitment to officers was to have this armour distributed by the end of the first quarter of 2018,” CPS said.
Kaminski says the sooner the vests come the better and told Global News he was ecstatic to hear they should be given to offices in the next week.
All Alberta RCMP officers have hard shell vests in their vehicles, according to spokesperson Cpl. Curtis Peters.
He said officers use them in any high-risk situation, including any threat of a firearm or in a situation like a home invasion.
“It happens more often than you’d think,” Peters said. “It happens fairly regularly.”