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Riot officers in downtown Vancouver June 15, 2011 during the Stanley Cup riot. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Riot officers in downtown Vancouver June 15, 2011 during the Stanley Cup riot. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Vancouver police response times slow in wake of Stanley Cup riots Add to ...

As the one-year mark approaches on a devastating riot during which torched cars and smashed storefronts turned the city into an international spectacle, Vancouver police continue to feel the impact on resources required to handle the cleanup.

In the first quarter of 2012, overall response times to Priority 1 calls – emergency calls on which seconds matter and a life may depend – were an average of 50 seconds, or 9.4 per cent, slower than over the same period in 2011.

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The Vancouver police department would not return calls for comment, but says in a short e-mail statement that such fluctuations can be attributed to many variables including “large investigations” and “significant events.”

The investigation into the June 15 mayhem, that occurred after the Canucks Game 7 Stanley Cup final loss to the Boston Bruins, is the largest of its kind in Canadian history. In its wake, dozens of VPD members were pulled from other units to create the Integrated Riot Investigation Team, which comprises a total of more than 70 members from both municipal police detachments and the RCMP.

The redistribution of resources means some other units may not have gotten the attention they usually do, Police Chief Jim Chu has said.

From January to March, Priority 1 response times had increased throughout Vancouver, which is divided by police into four patrol districts. The district with the biggest increase was the area of Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands and Hastings-Sunrise, where police took an average of nine minutes and 49 seconds to respond – one minute and 11 seconds, or 13.9 per cent, longer than last year’s first-quarter average of eight minutes and 38 seconds.

In the district encompassing downtown Vancouver, the West End and Stanley Park, response times were seven minutes and 30 seconds, up 45 seconds – 11.1 per cent – from last year’s first-quarter average of six minutes and 45 seconds.

Vancouver police spokeswoman Constable Jana McGuinness said in the e-mailed statement the fluctuations are normal and should not be of concern.

“Without doing a formal study, we can intuitively assume that the impact of many variables will cause response times to fluctuate year-round,” she said.

To date, IRIT has recommended 592 charges against 200 suspected rioters, while the Crown has approved 238 charges against 91 suspected rioters.

As of June 30, the total cost of the investigation will be about $2-million. Incremental costs, such as overtime and equipment, account for about $1.55-million, while another $500,000 was spent erecting a forensic video lab.

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