Whitehorse bylaw officers now sport bulletproof vests

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Whitehorse bylaw officers now sport bulletproof vests

Some city bylaw officers in Whitehorse now have an extra piece of equipment to keep them safe on the job — bulletproof vests.

"We refer to them as 'trauma vests' or 'safety vests'," said Dave Pruden, the city's bylaw manager. He demurs from calling them 'bulletproof' — though he says they are — saying he doesn't want to exaggerate the danger officers typically face in Whitehorse.

But he doesn't deny the need for some sort of protective gear. He says there have been two incidents in the city in recent years when officers have been physically assaulted.

"There are occasions when bylaw officers across North America are faced with certain levels of violence," he said. 

The bylaw department needed approval from the city's safety committee to order the $725 Kevlar vests. Officers got the OK and started using them earlier this year.

Pruden says right now they're worn by officers who typically respond to complaints at people's residences — "could be a barking dog, to a piece of garbage in someone's yard that's not supposed to be there."

Parking meter attendants don't wear them. Pruden says they typically work where lots of people can see them, so they're not in as much risk.

"It's for the officers going door-to-door and the ones that could be out on the trails, or out at nighttime, going to people's residences on complaints," he said.  

"We have to make sure officers are safe."