Despite a website and advanced video technology, the Vancouver Police Department has resorted to old-fashioned methods to help catch suspected Stanley Cup rioters: handing out tens of thousands of wanted posters.
“Today, we’re doing something we have never done before,” Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said on Wednesday.
More than 150 volunteers began circulating 35,000 posters that show the faces of 104 people suspected of committing crimes during the riot. Volunteers were canvassing busy areas including universities, transportation hubs and the businesses that were damaged that night.
Chief Chu said he hopes more than 100,000 people will view the pictures and help identify the suspects.
The city needs help identifying the alleged rioters, said Inspector Les Yeo, the team commander. The poster is intended to drive traffic back to the police website that is designed to help the community identify suspects.
“We can’t do this without the public’s help,” Insp. Yeo said.
On the first day, the public responded with enthusiasm. Some business owners requested multiple posters from volunteers and distributed them among their employees. Some people approached volunteers saying they thought they recognized someone in the poster, Sergeant Howard Chow said in an update on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve been receiving tips all afternoon regarding the photos in the poster,” he said.
The VDP wants as many of the suspects as possible charged with taking part in a riot because the offence receives the most serious treatment by the courts, Chief Chu said, adding that he is optimistic that the charge can be laid against most of the people whose pictures are on the poster.
Insp. Yeo said police continue to round up suspects in connection with the riot.
“Our officers are on the street and making arrests almost every day in peoples’ homes, in businesses and schools,” Insp. Yeo said.
The Vancouver force has so far recommended 163 charges against 60 people. A Surrey man pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property in connection with the riot earlier this month, but that case was brought forward by the RCMP. Karanvir Singh Saran, 18, received an absolute discharge.
The Vancouver Police Foundation funded the poster campaign.