Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is also facing questions about the city’s role in hosting the massive Stanley Cup street parties, echoed Chief Chu’s criticism.
“It’s unfortunate how Mr. Whitelaw’s comments cast so much doubt on all the work done to prepare for the riots,” the mayor said in an interview. He said “almost all” of the recommendations from the 1994 riot report were followed.
“I think they had a negative impact on the whole VPD and city, casting doubt and besmirching the efforts that were made on improvements from ’94. I guess we all should have done due diligence on where those comments were coming from, before they really drove the debate.”
With reports from Rod Mickleburgh and Ian Bailey
Full text of e-mail from Jim Chu
From: CHU, Jim
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:46 AM
To: All VPD Civilian Staff - DL; All VPD Sworn Staff - DL
Subject: Misrepresentations by Mr. Bob Whitelaw - June 15 Riot
To All Vancouver Police Department Staff
As you all know, my internal VPD communications are confidential. But in this instance, I am encouraging you to share this with your families and friends.
Over the last week, many of us in the Vancouver Police Department have been meeting and talking about the events on June 15th. The deputy chiefs, senior officers and I have managed to speak with many sworn and civilian members over the last few days and I want to thank you again for your amazing work and your feedback. To stabilize the riot in just three hours is a testament to the courage, training, and professionalism our members exhibited, and to the leadership skills of many sergeants, staff sergeants, inspectors, and others who took on leadership roles.
I have promised that we will fully cooperate with any review process, and if there are lessons to be learned, we will implement them.
We all have been moved by the amazing outpouring of public support. The letters, cards, baked goods, dog treats, and hugs and handshakes are unprecedented in my 32 year career. One member who policed an event on Friday night told me he "couldn't walk 10 feet without a citizen stopping him and thanking him". Another sergeant told me he went for breakfast with a group of officers and was told an anonymous citizen picked up their bill. And it was so moving to see the VPD patrol car with the sticky “thank you” notes.
It is difficult to explain why there is some media negativity in the face of this overwhelming public support, and why some insist that because there was a riot, the police “failed” because we didn’t somehow prevent it. The fact is that sports-related riots have occurred and will continue to occur in cities across North America and abroad, despite the best preparations and sometimes massive police presence.
I am grateful that this criticism has been aimed at my office and not at you. I am also grateful to live in a democracy with a free press even though we all know that free doesn’t always mean fair. While the majority of the reporting has been accurate, there has also been a lot of wild speculation and gossip that have been reported as facts.
A major source of this speculation is based on statements that have been made by a self-proclaimed expert, Mr. Bob Whitelaw. He has claimed he was an investigator for the BC Police Commission and also claimed to have written the 1994 Report on the Riot that occurred in Vancouver on June 14-15, 1994. Some media reports indicate he was the Chair or member of the Commission and some state he was an investigator. Yesterday, the media is referring to this report as “the Whitelaw Report.” Without exception they have reported his disparaging attacks against the integrity of the VPD without checking the facts.
It is time to set the record straight.
With just a few exceptions, all of the former BC Police Commission’s recommendations have been followed by the VPD. The members of the Public Safety Unit/Crowd Control Unit will especially know that their superb training, equipment, and leadership is a reflection of not only the recommendations in the report, but also the many advancements in crowd control unit training that have occurred since 1994.