Police departments across the Lower Mainland can’t just “take the night off” because a major event is being held outside their jurisdiction, Vancouver’s top cop says.
In response to the release of a report on June’s Stanley Cup riot, Chief Jim Chu called for police forces throughout the region to work together to plan enforcement for major events. He also said he will speak with transit officials about cutting off the flow of people into downtown for future events, and stood by an arrest plan in which, two months after the mayhem, no one has yet been charged.
In a 10-minute news conference at the Vancouver Police Department’s headquarters, Chief Chu said he would have done many things differently in hindsight.
“Over time, I think we're going to look at our regional partners because the report talks about declaring this a regional event. So, in the future, I'm hoping that other agencies just don't take the night off and say, ‘Everybody's gone to Vancouver, it's a problem for VPD and the city of Vancouver.’ ” Chief Chu did not expand on the remark.
During the riot, Vancouver police were assisted by several hundred RCMP, and municipal officers from Delta, Port Moody, New Westminster, West Vancouver, and Abbotsford.
RCMP did not respond to a request for comment on Chief Chu’s remarks.
Sergeant Paul Eisenzimmer, spokesman for Delta police, said he didn’t want to address Chief Chu’s suggestion that regional departments don’t get involved in policing major events in other jurisdictions.
“What I can say is that we collectively with the RCMP were policing a large crowd at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road, which had been gathering there for every game during the Canucks’ playoffs. ... When the events began to reach a crisis level in Vancouver, we deployed, I believe, staff in the neighbourhood of 20 or more officers to assist in Vancouver.”
The riot report says VPD asked Surrey RCMP and Delta police at 8 p.m. to send officers. An hour and a half earlier, Port Moody and West Vancouver police were asked to keep their day shift on until the Canucks-Bruins game was well over.
The chief said he’ll speak with TransLink about controlling the flow of people into downtown for future events.
“I think, for the future, we're going to have to look at controlling the capacity of those downtown streets. That's a discussion we'll have to have with our regional policing partners, as well as the transit authorities.”
The report says some of the procedures outlined in the VPD’s mass arrest contingency plan were not followed.
“Specifically, the plan called for arrested individuals to be recorded in the company of the arresting officer before being taken away in the police wagon and for basic details of the arrest to be provided, in order to streamline the investigative process,” the report said. Instead, officers gave a higher priority to managing the crowd than to making arrests.
Chief Chu said the goal was to suppress the riot. Pulling officers from the front lines wouldn’t have made sense.
“We’re going to have hundreds charged,” he said. “We have to be patient.”
Chief Chu has refused to say how many officers were on the street when the trouble began. The report said 446 officers were on duty when the riot began; 928 at full deployment.
Chief Chu said the report confirmed that no plausible number of officers could have prevented the riot.
The chief was asked by reporters why he didn’t deploy more officers earlier.
He responded: “If I had infinite amounts of money, I would deploy officers five hours before I think they're needed, just to be on the safe side.”