More than 800 police downtown during riot: Delta chief
Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:06PM PDT
The Delta chief of police has offered a rough figure indicating the number of police officers deployed in downtown Vancouver during the Stanley Cup riot, in spite of local officials' refusal to do so.
In an open letter posted to the Delta Police Department website, Chief Jim Cessford lauds the efforts of officers on the front lines but says the odds were against them.
"Even with over 800 police officers deployed to the downtown core, they were easily outnumbered by the vast crowd," Cessford wrote.
"In many cases, there was no choice but to be aggressive with defiant and intoxicated agitators that were only there to disturb the peace."
With crowds estimated at roughly 150,000, that amounts to about one officer for every 187 people.
Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu has refused to release the number of officers downtown -- which included officers from neighbouring Abbotsford, New Westminster, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Delta and the RCMP – citing potential security issues.
Even Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson admitted to CTV News that he was not privy to the final count.
"That is confidential information the police use when they're policing large events," he said Sunday. "There's a security issue with that, which I totally understand and I respect."
Delta Sgt. Cal Traversy said Cessford will not be commenting on his letter, but that the chief's intention was only to offer support to Chu.
"He wasn't trying to provide a number or anything," Traversy said, adding that he wasn't sure what the source of the figure was.
"He made those comments in response to what was being said about [Chu] after the riots… basically to show his support and make it clear there was a mobilization plan in place that most Lower Mainland agencies were involved in."
Both Chu and city manager Penny Ballem say there are internal reviews underway about what went wrong following the Canucks' Game 7 loss against the Boston Bruins, when public mayhem resulted in millions of dollars in property damage and roughly 150 injuries.
Retired Nova Scotia deputy justice minister Doug Keefe and former VANOC head John Furlong are co-chairing the city's review, due to be completed by the end of August.
Cessford says police agencies began preparing for potential riots at the beginning of the playoffs, learning crowd control lessons from each of the 25 games the Canucks played.
"I know I can say on behalf of the other police chiefs that I am proud of the response by police officers from across the region," Cessford wrote.
"Regardless of uniform, we worked together in our greatest efforts to restore order in what can only be described as chaos."