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‘An outstanding person’: Calgary police officer killed during New Year’s Eve traffic stop

Click to play video 'Calgary police say officer who was killed during traffic stop collision helped investigation into own death' Calgary police say officer who was killed during traffic stop collision helped investigation into own death
Chief Constable Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service said on Friday that Andrew Harnett, the officer killed in a collision as a vehicle fled a traffic stop, helped police with their investigation by recording pertinent information before he was struck – Jan 1, 2021

A 37-year-old Calgary police officer was killed in the line of duty late Thursday night while conducting a New Year’s Eve traffic stop.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett joined the Calgary Police Service 12 years ago, after serving as a military police officer. He was promoted to sergeant in 2019 and was most recently assigned to District 5.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett
Sgt. Andrew Harnett. Credit: Calgary Police Service

According to a CPS statement, while working to keep streets safe, Andrew was struck by a vehicle fleeing a traffic stop. Despite the heroic attempts by his colleagues and members of EMS, he died as a result of his injuries.

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“Because of some senseless criminal actions, our service and our community is mourning on this first day of 2021,” Chief Mark Neufeld said Friday morning.

“More importantly, a family has lost a son, a sibling has lost a brother, a spouse has lost a partner and many, many members of our service have lost a really good friend.”

Sources also tell Global News that Harnett and his partner Chelsea are expecting a baby.

Click to play video 'Calgary police say they don’t believe suspects wouldn’t have known they struck officer' Calgary police say they don’t believe suspects wouldn’t have known they struck officer
Calgary police say they don’t believe suspects wouldn’t have known they struck officer – Jan 1, 2021

Neufeld said investigators believe Harnett was not only struck, but dragged along the street, and said the driver would have known he’d hit and injured the officer.

Arrest warrants for first-degree murder were issued Friday for two teenagers, both of which Neufeld said were known to police, but did not share how.

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Read more: Teens wanted for murder of Calgary police officer turn themselves in

The driver of another vehicle that was not connected to the incident or those believed to be involved, but was involved in the collision, stayed on the scene and is helping officers with their investigation, Neufeld said.

He said the investigation is proceeding so quickly because of “some exceptional police work done by Andrew prior to his death.”

“He is helping us solve this and bring those responsible to justice,” Neufeld said.

“His commitment to policing and to his community, right up until his very last moments, are a testament to his dedication to the community and to service as displayed throughout the whole of his career.”

Sgt. Andrew Harnett. Global News / file

Neufeld shared that he’d developed a personal relationship with Harnett, and said other officers have been sharing their memories of him through the night and morning.

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“I can say here and now, without the least bit of hesitation, he was an outstanding police officer, an outstanding leader, and an outstanding person.”

“Today is the day I’ve had nightmares about. Having to stand in front of you, our membership and the public, to announce the loss of one of our officers, one of our guardians and unquestionably, one of the best. He will be greatly missed by all.”

Neufeld got emotional when he spoke about how the police service members have pulled together to support each other through the tragedy, and said he “couldn’t ask for more.”

“This is what they do and so it’s no surprise, but it’s just very, very humbling and [I’m] proud to see what we’re seeing and what we’ve been able to do in 12 hours here,” he said.

He said he was angry and “pissed off” at the “totally senseless” death of one of his officers.

Flags are seen lowered at the Calgary Police Service istrict 5 building, commemorating the life of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who died after being hit during a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.
Flags are seen lowered at the Calgary Police Service istrict 5 building, commemorating the life of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who died after being hit during a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve. Global News
Flowers set up at the Calgary police memorial.
Flowers set up at the Calgary police memorial. Global News

Calgary Police Association president John Orr described Harnett as a “brave and dedicated man.”

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“Sgt. Andrew Harnett was an exemplary police officer and an exemplary human being,” Orr said.

“He was committed to a life of service, both as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and as a police officer. He made the ultimate sacrifice while fulfilling his oath to protect Calgarians.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said everyone at the City of Calgary is hurting with the police service today, as well as the friends and family now grieving Harnett.

“In particular today, my heart is not only with Sgt. Harnett’s family, but also with the women and men of the Calgary police service. Because I know a little bit about that family, and a little bit about that incredible fraternity of people who come together to keep us safe every single day.” Nenshi said.

“I just want to say thank you to all of them for the work they do every day, but in particular for the work that’s been going on over these last 12 hours or so. While many of us were sleeping or celebrating the New Year, they continued to work, as they do every day, in the face of extraordinary tragedy.”

Click to play video 'Calgary mayor says his heart is with family of officer killed during traffic stop on New Years Eve, thanks police for all their efforts' Calgary mayor says his heart is with family of officer killed during traffic stop on New Years Eve, thanks police for all their efforts
Calgary mayor says his heart is with family of officer killed during traffic stop on New Years Eve, thanks police for all their efforts – Jan 1, 2021

In an emailed statement, Minister of Justice and Soliciter General Kaycee Madu said he was “saddened and heartbroken at the news” of Harnett’s death.

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“This is a devastating reminder of what the brave men and women of law enforcement face every day when they put on their uniform. As officers work to keep Albertans and our communities safe, their families hope to see them safe again at the end of their shift,” he said.

“As we grieve the loss of this officer, let us remember his selflessness in choosing a life dedicated to public service and safety, and the sacrifices made by his family in doing so.”

A CPS officer was killed in the line of duty while conducting a traffic stop on Dec 31, 2020. Blake Lough / Global News

Harnett was struck in the area of Falconridge Blvd and Falconridge Dr NE around 10:50 p.m. Neufeld said Harnett tried to stop the vehicle because the plate didn’t match the vehicle.

According to a CPS statement, fellow officers and EMS desperately tried to save the officer, but he was pronounced dead in hospital around midnight.

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“The profound grief this has brought to all members of the Calgary Police Service and their families is unmeasurable,” reads the statement.

“Please bear with us while we work through this difficult time.”

A CPS officer was killed in the line of duty while conducting a traffic stop on Dec 31, 2020. Mike Hills / Global News

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