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Slain officer helping to catch his own killers

“I’m pissed off – it’s totally senseless,” said Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld

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Sgt. Andrew Harnett is working to catch his own killer.

Harnett, 37, pulled over an Infiniti vehicle in the neighbourhood of Falconridge Thursday night because it’s licence plate didn’t match.

The 12-year-veteran, nick-named “Hardcore” by his fellow officers, then followed all proper procedures and communicated details of the suspect car to the dispatcher through his in-car computer system, said Chief Mark Neufeld in a Friday press conference.

Neufeld said Harnett was also able to obtain footage of his interactions with the suspects, named as a 17-year-old and Amir Abdulrabhman, 19, both of Calgary. Both of the wanted men are known to Calgary police. They have been charged with first-degree murder.

Chief Neufeld at Friday press conferemce

“Sgt. Harnett did exceptional police work prior to his death,” Neufeld said.

The chief said he knew Harnett personally and had even gone on a patrol with “Andy.”

“This is what I have had nightmares about,” said Neufeld, adding there is no such thing as a routine police call.

“I’m pissed off – it’s totally senseless.”

Neufeld praised the officers leading the investigation, from the homicide to the traffic, to the crime scenes units.

“I am humbled by the progress we have made in the last 12 hours,” he said.

The tragedy began about 10:50 p.m. Thursday night when Harnett pulled over the Infiniti.

At some point the offenders fled and and accident happened with Harnett being struck and killed. Another car, driven by someone not involved, got caught up in the carnage and also hit Harnett.

As a supervising sergeant for Five District, Harnett was working alone, which is normal practice.

Acting on a tip for the public, police found the culprits’ car about 1:30 p.m., Friday in the northeast community of Taradale. The vehicle has been brought in for forensic testing.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett
Courtesy Calgary Police Service

Neufeld urged Calgarians to come forward with information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

Calgary Police Association President John Orr called Harnett an “exceptional police officer and an exceptional human being.”

“I want to let his family know he will be remembered always,” said Orr, who called the murder “cowardly.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, close to tears, also paid tribute to Harnett, noting the officer patrolled Five District in the northeast where he lives.

Neufeld noted Harnett was decorated by the Canadian Armed Forces when he was a military police officer with them, and had received at least two Chief’s Awards for live-saving with the CPS.

Premier Jason Kenney also paid tribute to Harnett calling his murder, a “terrible crime.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Justice Minister Kacyee Madu.

“I am saddened and heartbroken at the news of the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett with the Calgary Police Service. I wish to extend my condolences to Sgt. Harnett’s family, friends, co-workers, and the entire Calgary Police Service at this very difficult time,” said Madu in a statement.

“As part of his service to Calgarians, Sgt. Harnett was on duty patrolling the streets on New Year’s Eve. While doing this as part of ensuring the safety of Calgarians, this tragic event took place that cost him his life.

“This is a devastating reminder of what the brave men and women of law enforcement face every day when they put on their uniform. As officers work to keep Albertans and our communities safe, their families hope to see them safe again at the end of their shift.

“As we grieve the loss of this officer, let us remember his selflessness in choosing a life dedicated to public service and safety, and the sacrifices made by his family in doing so.”

Harnett, who lived in Strathmore, leaves behind his wife Chelsea. The couple had no children.

…more to come

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mars Hill

    January 1, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Brothers of Officer Harnett, when these people are arrested, probe their psyche as to why this happened and report the results.

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News

Canada-Europe take action over COVID variant Omicron

“Emergence of Omicron, a new variant of concern reinforces the need for caution,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

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With the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC) named Omicron in South Africa, the Canadian government is taking steps to limit the risk to Canadians.

Travellers arriving from countries of concern within the last 14 days will be required to quarantine pending negative COVID-19 tests. Countries of concern include South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

On Friday, Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the federal government will impose five measures in an effort to limit its spread in Canada.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam took to Twitter on Saturday to share her concerns over the VOC.

“Emergence of Omicron, a new variant of concern reinforces the need for caution,” wrote Tam.

The WHO has labelled Omicron as a variant of concern due to its high number of mutations and reports that early evidence suggests it could be more infectious than other variants.

Meanwhile, during a news conference on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK will take “targeted and precautionary measures” after two people tested positive for the Omicron variant.

One case was identified in Brentwood, a town in southeastern England while the other case was located in the central city of Nottingham. Both individuals are linked and had travelled from southern Africa. The two individuals are self-isolating along with their households and authorities are working on contact tracing.

Johnson confirmed travellers arriving in England will be required to take a PCR test and self-isolate until a negative test result is provided. Those that test positive for the new variant will have to self-isolate, along with any of their close contacts, for 10 days regardless of vaccine status.

He also said masks will be required in shops and other public spaces and indicated they will “boost the booster campaign.”

“Right now this is the responsible course of action to slow down the seeding and the spread of this new variant and to maximize our defences,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the new rules will be reviewed in three weeks when scientists know more about the variant.

On Friday, the British government added Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to the country’s travel red list. By Saturday, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia were also added to the list.

Other countries are adding restrictions on travellers coming from various southern African countries including the US, Japan, Brazil, and Australia while cases have also been reported in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong.

Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic have also reported suspected cases related to travellers arriving from South Africa.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Road closures as British Columbians brace for more rain

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday.

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As BC braces for additional rain, the government has ‘proactively’ closed a number of highways for travel.

“We are actively responding, monitoring and assessing the many highway closures due to flooding and will continue to do so as we work with local and emergency service partners,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Safety is our top priority while we deal with a rapidly changing and difficult situation.”

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday. The ministry said the time and duration of the closures will be weather-dependent.

“The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk,” said the ministry in a press release.

“The closures of these three highways will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning, with the highways reopened when it is safe to do so.”

The release said Highway 1 will be closed between Popkum and Hope on Saturday afternoon as BC Hydro plans a reservoir release, “crucial to protect the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also being affected by the heavy rains.”

The release explains the reservoir release will discharge water towards areas of Highway 1 that were affected during the November 14 storm.  

“This additional flow – combined with the increased precipitation and already high stream flows – poses a risk of impact to Highway 1 in the Laidlaw area.”

The ministry is bracing for further damage to Highway 1 in this area and said the reopening time cannot be determined at this stage but will be assessed by crews “when it is safe to do so.”

Highway 7 between Mission and Hope remains open with travel restrictions in place. Essential purposes for travel are defined in the travel restrictions order through the Emergency Program Act

Weather statements are in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Squamish to Whistler and the Sunshine Coast into next week. Storms are expected to bring more rain which has resulted in high streamflow advisories for all regions of the coast by the River Forecast Centre.

Ongoing road and travel updates are available on the ministry’s website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Bill to aid jurors traumatized by testimony up for vote … again

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling.”

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For the third time in three years, legislators will attempt to pass an aid bill for jurors traumatized by graphic testimony in criminal courts.

“When we ask citizens to be a juror we don’t ask them to be a victim,” said Quebec Senator and bill sponsor Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

“There is no excuse not to adopt that bill.” 

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling,” said Blacklock’s Reporter.

Two identical bills, S-207 and C-417, lapsed in the last two Parliaments.

“That kind of bill should be a government bill, not a private bill,” said Boisvenu.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of private interest. It’s a matter of national interest.”

In 2017, the Commons justice committee recommended the Criminal Code amendment after hearing testimony from former jurors who said they quit jobs, suffered marriage breakdown and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being compelled to watch crime scene videos and hear testimony from coroners.

“Everyone’s mental health matters,” Ontario Senator Lucie Moncion said Thursday.

“Yet from a legal point of view, jurors are part of a special category of people who are denied complete health care. The secrecy rule prohibits a juror from disclosing information related to deliberations to anyone including a health care professional. This needs to change.”

Moncion was a juror in a 1989 murder trial and said the experience left her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“They show you the whole autopsy,” said Moncion.

“It was very difficult. This is still very difficult for me.”

Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the 2017 Commons justice committee that recommended reforms, said delays were inexcusable.

“It should have been a no-brainer for the government to have brought this bill forward,” said Cooper indicating the bill has been “studied thoroughly.”

“There have literally been no arguments tendered against this piece of legislation.”

Cooper, in 2019, sponsored a similar bill – C-417 – that lapsed. MPs at the time noted U.S. jurors were free to discuss their experience with friends, family, psychiatrists or media.

“In the United States once a trial is over jurors are generally free to discuss the events of the trial and jury deliberations unless a specific court order bars them from doing so,” said Ontario Liberal MP Arif Virani, then-parliamentary secretary for justice.

“What that means is that jurors in the United States can talk with nearly anyone about juror deliberations including a talk show host on national television or across the Internet. This approach, which offers limited protection for juror privacy, is significantly different from the Canadian model.”

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