The clothing that keeps you safe
Selecting stories for this issue — traditionally our clothing and duty gear edition — proved to be quite the challenge.
By Renée Francoeur
I was neck deep in information about shield carrier bags, moulded pouches and ergonomic duty belts from a brand with a name that had me thinking of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. Sure, there are some pretty neat elements to police gloves with needle protection, or bulletproof vest cleaner, or even to finding the perfect tactical sock (high arches are no joke, trust me I know), but I was looking for something a little more meaty.
I thought about rehashing the incredible details of our “Active Threats: Are You Prepared?” webinar, which we hosted this summer in partnership with two fellow Annex Business Media publications.
Almost 300 people registered for this webinar and close to 200 actually tuned in live (you can watch it back at bit.ly/2C7HP6k). The feedback was overwhelming — this audience was hungry for more information on tactical first aid kits and first responder collaboration in incidents requiring immediate action rapid deployment.
In the webinar, we heard how the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado was a watershed event for the way first responders approach active threats. My mind flashed back to a photo I’d seen years ago of the SWAT team with their carbines and helmets outside that school after the shootings killed 13 people and injured more than 20 others.
In a year where we saw two of our own blue family members senselessly gunned down, and where the number of fatal shootings in Toronto alone has already climbed above the 2017 stat, active threats and the equipment needed to keep law enforcement as safe as possible is top of mind. That’s what I decided I wanted this issue to hone in on: all things body armour.
Moreover, the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) Law Enforcement Policy Center recently published an updated Model Policy document and Concepts & Issues Paper outlining suggested response protocols for active shooter incidents.
“Many law enforcement agencies have taken steps to address the active shooter risk in their communities through the development of policy and action plans…” the paper asserts. “These often have several factors in common, including… providing necessary equipment and related training for those tasked with immediate action, to include patrol rifles, helmets, enhanced ballistic and load-bearing vests, ballistic shields, window access and forced entry tools, and trauma kits.”
The discussion paper goes on to point out:
“Many schools and other buildings are implementing enhanced physical security measures and lockdown protocols. Recognizing this, more law enforcement agencies are providing and training patrol officers in the use of breaching tools and munitions that heretofore have been available only to tactical units. At a minimum, relatively inexpensive breaching tools such as a sledge, ram, or Halligan bar should be available to all patrol units. Breaching rounds designed for use in standard issue 12-gauge patrol shotguns are another option, although more extensive training is required prior to field use.”
Times have changed. The scope of active threat prep and equipment training is expanding, or should be, as we see from the above quote.
Body armour may be set to change, too, as we discover in this month’s Technology column on a way to investigate the high-performance fibers used in modern body armour. We hear how this could spark lighter weight materials for this type of attire in the future. Comfortable bulletproof protection? Now that’s something I’ll be waiting to sink my teeth into.