History & Museum Winnipeg Police Museum
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Soft Body Armour (Bullet Proof Vest)
The officers that patrol the streets are always aware of the dangers they might face and often without warning. At times their training will help them in dangerous situations but on a few occasions it is the equipment they carry or wear that makes the difference.
The most often thought of piece of equipment is the soft body armour or bullet proof vest as it is commonly called. This piece of equipment was not issued to Winnipeg Police officers until 1985 although many officers had privately purchased vests before that time.
In 1984 the department came very close to losing another officer in a gunfight with a known drug dealer. Fortunately, the officers purchased a "Second Chance" vest that gave him a 'second chance' by saving his life.
Constable Rick Donovan and his partner Constable Mike Ashley followed a wanted car in the north end of the city. The officers radioed for assistance but the car came to a stop before anyone could arrive. The officers ordered the occupants to exit the vehicle with their hands in the air while they stood behind the open doors of the cruiser. The driver had earlier indicated to his passengers that he was going to kill the police officers and rather than stepping out of his car, he opened the door and fired a shotgun. The cars were close and the blast of pellets came through the open window and struck Constable Donovan full in the chest. His life was saved by the "Second Chance" vest he was wearing.
The actual vest and clothing of Constable Donovan are on display along with pictures of the scene and the officer being examined at the hospital.
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