During the attack on Stockholm's Drottninggatan pedestrian street, police lacked crucial protective equipment, as well as appropriate training, officers have said in incident reports seen by Dagens Nyheter and Expressen.
Around 50 internal police reports have been submitted related to the April 7 attack, when a truck was driven down the Drottninggatan pedestrian street to later crash into the Åhléns department store, killing four people and injuring at least fifteen.
All Swedish police officers working in the field have access to light protective vests, but heavy-duty vests are shared among staff. During the attack, officers who were normally desk-bound were summoned to the field, meaning they lacked appropriate equipment.
“We simply could not equip that many police officers at the same time,” Stockholm Police Union Health and Safety Officer Roger Östergren told TT news agency.
Some officers also reported they were sent on surveillance missions carrying their standard service weapons because they had not been trained in using the MP5 submachine gun, which is used by Swedish police under extraordinary circumstances.
“My sense of being part of this mission was that those of us on patrol were gliding around as targets without reasonable possibility to protect ourselves or others,” one officer wrote.
The Swedish police started acquiring more protective equipment in the wake of the attacks in France, Brussels and Copenhagen, according to Roger Östergren at the Stockholm Police Union.
“That's when they started to wake up. That's when they bought the protective equipment. But it wasn't enough,” he told TT.
Östergren said, however, that the Police Union and the employer see eye to eye on the issue of providing officers with adequate equipment.
“But it's typical that something has to happen before they react, that there is no proactive thinking,” he said.
Erik Widstrand, chief commanding officer during the attack, admitted to Dagens Nyheter it was possible there had not been enough protective gear for all officers in the field.
“It could turn out that during these exceptional circumstances there wasn't enough, which means we'll have to stock up based on this new experience. But during normal circumstances when we require heavy-duty helmets and vests, my understanding is that we have enough of it,” Widstrand told Dagens Nyheter.