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The Globe and Mail

Vancouver riot saw 800 cops on street says B.C. police chief

Police on horseback ride through the street past a fire on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver.

Rich Lam/Getty Images/Rich Lam/Getty Images

Delta Chief Constable Jim Cessford says more than 800 police officers from the Lower Mainland were deployed in the downtown Vancouver streets during the Stanley Cup riot.

While Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu has consistently refused to disclose police staffing levels that night, even when asked to do so by Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chief Constable Cessford has released a statement providing some details of police planning for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

Chief Constable Cessford said police forces and agencies throughout the Greater Vancouver region worked together during the playoffs to ensure safe celebrations.

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Once the Canucks entered the Stanley Cup finals, according to Chief Constable Cessford, police from Vancouver, Abbotsford, New Westminister, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Delta and the RCMP worked under a multi-level command structure to approach the final playoff round.

A mobilization plan involving these forces was activated for Game Seven, according to the Delta police chief, when more than 100,000 individuals massed in downtown Vancouver.

He said police attempted to mitigate issues early on, but once the Canucks lost, conditions escalated quickly to "extremely dangerous levels".

Chief Cessford blamed the trouble on "a small number of individuals...determined to cause havoc in the city, and they were successful in doing so".

He then referred to the number of police number in the streets.

"Even with over 800 police officers deployed to the downtown core, they were easily outnumbered by the vast crowd."

Vancouver police chief Jim Chu has said his decision not to release specific numbers of officers on the street that night was based on a need to "protect the safety of officers and the public".

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The police deployment estimate by Chief Constable Cessford is much higher than previous estimates, cobbled together by analysing previous police reports and what information police provided ahead of the riot. Some have put the number at just over 300 officers as Game 7 began, including 100 members of the RCMP's riot squad.

However, it is not known how many officers from surrounding municipalities responded to a call for help once the riot was underway, and how many Vancouver police chose on their own to report for duty, when trouble flared.

Chief Cessford's statement did not detail whether the "more than 800 officers" was the total number of police active in the streets by the time the riot was underway, or the number on hand before the riot.

Some media reports Tuesday afternoon suggested Chief Cessford gave only a rough estimate when he said 800 officers were deployed. But Acting Sgt. Cal Traversy said the chief stands by his comments.

"It wasn't a number off the top of his head, but I can't really comment on it because I don't know where the numbers came from. He's not taking anything back. He still stands to what he said and commented on. He doesn't want to speak any further about it because there's a review in process." Acting Sgt. Traversy said Chief Cessford only issued the statement to express support for his Vancouver counterpart.

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