Police dogs to get bulletproof vests

QUEENSLAND police dogs could get made-to-measure protective vests before their human counterparts after a 12-month trial is examined.
The trial of stab and ballistic resistant vests has been completed by police dogs in Mackay and the results are now being assessed by managers.

But plans for a similar trial of personalised body armour for officers have been put on hold indefinitely, The Courier-Mail reports.

Queensland Police Union general secretary Mick Barnes said a working party set up to examine the issue had met only once.

"The next meeting was cancelled and is yet to be rescheduled," he said.

Police have access to general-issue ballistics vests for "high-risk" situations but the QPU has long campaigned for made-to-measure body armour that can be comfortably worn under clothing.

"We'd certainly welcome the introduction of personal issue body armours which includes an ability to defeat ballistic projectiles and knives," Mr Barnes said.
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"Often you attend something that you don't know what the risk is going to be."

He said it was highly likely such protection could have saved the life of Constable Brett Irwin who was shot dead while going to make a routine arrest at Keperra in July 2007.

"Brett was shot in the back with a 9mm Luger, which is a fairly low powered round. I'm not a ballistics expert but had he been wearing a vest, it would have defeated it," Mr Barnes said.

A coronial inquest into Constable Irwin's death begins on September 28.

The campaign for police dogs to be fitted with protective vests has intensified in the wake of the stabbing of Zac during a violent struggle at Runcorn on Brisbane's southside in August.

Officer-in-charge of the Brisbane Dog Squad Senior Sergeant Tim Partridge said a member of the public had even offered to mount a fundraising campaign for the vests, which cost about $2000 each.

"There are benefits but also significant downsides to using the vests on the dogs," Sen-Sgt Partridge said.

"Dogs overheat much more quickly than people do and putting a big heavy vest on them is problematic, particularly when they've got to track. Weight is also an issue."

He said handlers involved in the 12-month trial would send their reports to the State Dog Squad manager Senior Sergeant Terry Cantwell for consideration.

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