Provincial funding helps P.A. SWAT get new gear

Members of the Prince Albert Police Service SWAT team wait outside a Prince Albert residence in February 2017. -- Herald file photo.

Prince Albert’s SWAT team has some brand new gear thanks to the Civil Forfeiture Fund.

On Thursday, the province announced almost $330,000 in funding to seven police and community-based organizations for new tools and programming. An additional $280,000 will be deposited into the victims’ fund.

For Prince Albert, it means $47,645 in lightweight body armour plates and new SWAT helmets and headsets.

The body armour plates are lighter and more effective than the ones the force is currently using, while the new helmets and headsets allow the force to communicate better with other SWAT radio platforms in the province, are lighter and provide additional hearing protection. The current headsets are not compatible with other SWAT radio platforms without the use of an adaptor.

According to Sgt. Scott Hayes, a SWAT team leader, the new helmets and headsets are “significantly” lighter than the old helmets, and communication is better, while the new body armour’s lighter weight helps decrease fatigue while still providing protection.

“ The increased level of tactical efficiency and awareness will no doubt improve public safety in our community,” Hayes said in a written statement provided to the Herald.

“ The new equipment obtained from the proceeds of crimes funds has been a welcome addition and is greatly appreciated by all team members.”

Other projects announced Thursday include a robot, modular cameras and rifle scopes for the Regina Police Service; a robotic search stick, a vented drug processing cabinet and ION scanner for Saskatoon, off-road equipment for File Hills and a youth cadet corps program for the File Hills Board of Police Commissioners.

The funding comes from proceeds from property seized in police raids considered to be proceeds or an instrument of crime. Any cash from the forfeitures is deposited from the fund. About $280,000 went to police forces, with the remaining $50,000 distributed to community-based organizations such as the Moose Jaw branch of the John Howard Society.

“Government is proud to be able to provide this funding to Saskatchewan’s municipal police forces so they can use it to buy the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said in a press release.

“The distribution to the Victims’ Fund will also continue to provide for important victims services in this province such as counselling, medical bills and the replacement of valuables.”

“Municipal police services greatly appreciate the financial support provided by government through the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund,” Chief of the Weyburn Police Service and president of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police Marlo Pritchard added. 

“These additional, unbudgeted funds allow Saskatchewan police services to acquire additional equipment, which assists in increasing the safety and security of the communities in which we serve.”