VPD officer shoots himself in leg

Accident at gun range in Pitt Meadows left officer with broken femur

All Vancouver police officers must now use holsters approved by the police department after an off-duty member using his own self-purchased holster accidentally shot himself in the leg at a gun range.

The incident occurred Sept. 25, 2015 at the Thompson Mountain Sportsmen Association in Pitt Meadows. The officer was using a holster he bought and unintentionally discharged his pistol while attempting to re-holster.

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The bullet broke the officer’s femur and he suffered tissue damage.

Details of the incident are in a report going before the Vancouver Police Board Thursday. The report indicates how the incident triggered an internal investigation which concluded there was no misconduct by the officer.

“While unintentional discharges are rare, they are extremely dangerous and pose significant risk,” the report said.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner had oversight of the investigation and wrote to the Vancouver Police Board suggesting the lack of policy related to officers around holsters may have been a contributing factor in the shooting.

"VPD could benefit from the creation of a clear and objective policy respecting the acquisition, testing, approval and issuance of plain clothes/conceal carry holsters," said the report, in paraphrasing the commissioner's office recommendations.

As a result, the department has amended its policy related to issuing of equipment to read that “members shall only use a departmentally approved holster to carry their issue firearm…” Officers, whether in uniform, plain clothes or off-duty, must now review a list of holsters approved by the department’s force option training unit and firearms training team.

The report did not indicate what type of gun the officer was using when the accident happened.Police Chief Adam Palmer confirmed the officer has since returned to work. He reiterated it's not a common accident among officers.

"I remember an accidental discharge probably 25 years ago," said Palmer, noting it also happened at a gun range. "In my career, I can only think of those two."

Last month, the VPD posted a list on its website of the “common weapons” officers use while on the job. It did not include weapons used in “covert operations.” The list was posted in response to a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.

The weapons:

·       Arwen 37 mm

·       Baton

·       Beretta 96D pistol

·       Colt C8 carbines

·       Heckler & Koch MP5

·       LaRue OBR sniper rifle

·       OC spray

·       Penn Arms 40mm launcher

·       Remington 870 police magnum shotgun

·       Sig Sauer P226R DA/SA pistol

·       Sig Sauer P226R DAK pistol

·       Sig Sauer P239 DAK pistol

·       Taser

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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