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The Globe and Mail

Vancouver police called for 300 officers on streets during Game 7

Riot officers keep a perimeter around two burning police cars in downtown Vancouver June 15, 2011.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The Vancouver Police Department has refused to say how many officers were on duty the night of the Stanley Cup riot, but administrative reports filed with city council and the Vancouver Police Board suggest the initial plan was to have about 300 in the street.

That thin blue line, which initially was unable to control the riot, included a 100-member RCMP tactical troop and 100 members of the VPD crowd-control unit, two groups specially trained in riot response.

As the crowd unrest escalated, after Vancouver's loss to Boston in Game 7, the VPD called in additional support from outlying communities, but the number of officers who rushed in to help quell the unrest hasn't been released.

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What is clear is that by the time the backup arrived, a full-blown riot had erupted, leading to devastating property damage in the city core.

VPD Chief Jim Chu has declined to confirm the size of the force patrolling for Game 7, except to say: "There were hundreds of officers deployed and hundreds more were brought in later on."

But in a presentation to city council in March, Chief Chu said he was aiming for about the same level of policing used by Calgary in 2004, and Edmonton in 2006, when those cities played host to games in Stanley Cup finals.

"Both cities deployed enormous police resources into the areas of these celebrations and were able to maintain reasonable control of the situation," Chief Chu's report stated.

"During the 2004 playoff run, the Calgary Police Service deployed their members in a manner similar to what we have done in past years and are proposing to use this year. They deployed significant resources increasing in size for each round. [Calgary]peaked at deploying approximately 350 members during the Stanley Cup finals. … Edmonton also followed this deployment model and peaked at about 300 members for the finals," the report stated.

"With our local experience of crowd behaviour and building on the experience of both Calgary and Edmonton, it is clear that we must deploy police resources to provide safety and security to those citizens that attend … while dealing swiftly with those who are intent on causing problems," the chief's report stated, but it did not say just how many officers would be needed in Vancouver.

In April last year, Inspector Rick McKenna of the VPD's emergency and operational planning section filed a report with the police board, estimating the total bill for policing the 2010 playoffs at $968,232.

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According to that plan, if the Canucks had gone the distance in the final, as they did this year, the VPD would have wanted to assign 323 officers for each of the four games.

That number would have included 100 RCMP tactical troop members, 100 VPD crowd-control-unit officers, 36 members on downtown foot patrol, 14 bike-squad members and an assortment of others in traffic, communications and investigations. There would have been 16 sergeants and three inspectors on duty.

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