OPP officer in Orillia mentored fallen Calgary police officer

Sgt. Andrew Harnett was killed while trying to make a traffic stop

When Jack Harrison talked to Andrew Harnett, he knew the young boy had so much potential.

The Ontario Provincial Police Constable gets emotional remembering the 37-year-old Calgary police officer who was killed New Year’s Eve while trying to make a traffic stop.

Harrison, who is based at Central Region traffic in Orillia, says he was working in Hagersville at the local municipal police department in the mid-1990s when he met Andrew, who was 13-years-old at the time.

“It was like talking to a 23-year-old. He was so mature and focused,” reflects Harrison.

He says Andrew just wanted to know more and more about policing. Harrison says he took the teenager under his wing and the boy became part of his family.

Sgt. Harnett was killed when an SUV fleeing a traffic stop struck the officer and dragged him. He later died in hospital.

Two males, ages 17 and 19, have been charged with first degree murder in the officer’s death.

Harrison wasn’t surprised Andrew was working the New Year’s shift, figuring he would have wanted to give that day to a family guy, noting the Sgt. was probably thinking he would take off the next new year because he was going to be a dad.

Andrew’s wife, Chelsea, is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Harrison says Andrew shunned the limelight.

“He wanted to catch the bad guys,” says Harrison. “You only found about an award he won after the fact.”

Andrew began his policing career with the military in Edmonton after training at CFB Borden.

Harrison says the two kept in touch and Andrew had planned to come back to Ontario, but the Calgary Police Service made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Harrison spent part of the New Year’s weekend with Andrew’s brother, Jason, who lives in Muskoka. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral for Andrew will have limited capacity, and while Harrison would like to be there for the fallen officer, he doesn’t want to take a spot away from family.

Holding back tears, Harrison says he and his wife watched Andrew through his teenage years.

“We would talk about him. Just basically, you know, saying that kid’s going to go somewhere.”