Sask. Highway Patrol officers to receive hard body armour for high-risk situations
Government buying both hard and soft armour
The Saskatchewan government is looking to purchase 60 sets of hard body armour to go into vests of provincial highway patrol officers for protection in situations where shotguns or high-powered rifles are present.
It's part of a continuing two-year transition of commercial vehicle inspectors into a fully-trained police force, under the name Saskatchewan Highway Patrol (SHP).
The government has two requests for bids for body armour: soft and hard.
A government spokesperson said that for the soft armour, the province needs to replace expired and near-expired vests and also purchase vests for new recruits. The hard armour would be designed to be inserted into these vests for "when officers are on a call where there is the potential for rifles to be involved, as they provide more ballistic protection for officers."
The hard armour request for bids closes this week.
The province has minimum requirements for the hard armour including a minimum ballistic level 3 stand-alone rating — strong enough to withstand high-powered rifle and handgun rounds — and that each plate must weigh less than three kilograms.
Hard armour plates are considered situational and can be swapped out.
Earlier this year, the government sought bids for rifle ammunition, specifically a type of frangible ammunition which is used in training. It disintegrates on impact and does not ricochet, making it safer in a training environment.
The government said its SHP officers have assault-style carbine rifles that use 5.56 calibre ammunition, the same as other law enforcement agencies.
It confirmed no officers have been shot at or fired a shot since the creation of the SHP on July 1, 2018.
Highway patrol officers are part of the province's larger Protection and Response Team, launched in 2017 in the wake of concerns about rising rural crime across Saskatchewan.
As of June 2018, 40 former vehicle enforcement officers were transitioned to work under the Saskatchewan Highway Patrol banner. The officers were trained and began carrying firearms, taking on expanded duties, including:
- Responding to 911 calls.
- Investigating impaired drivers.
- Enforcing speed limits.
- Responding to accidents.
- Inspecting the welfare of livestock being transported.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Highways asked companies to bid on a centralized training centre, where officers could be trained on firearms and in hand-to-hand combat.
The new training centre will be available to other groups, including conservation officers, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, corrections workers, municipal police forces and the RCMP.
The training centre is still in the planning stages, according to the government.
with files from Guy Quenneville