Opinion Column

Unfair to slam Chu over riot patrol


We are all likely suffering from a bit of riot fatigue.

The news cycle and talk shows are still filled with armchair quarterbacking.

Those who know so little have said so much.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but the criticism of Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, is galling in its intensity and its inaccuracy.

The navel gazing about whether or not the VPD had enough resources deployed the night of the riot is very uninformed.

As is the criticism of his original remarks relating to "anarchists" being responsible. There's no question that all the participants in the riot were not "anarchists." In fact, seemingly normal young folks, some from privileged backgrounds, were involved in everything from assaulting police to setting cars alight to looting stores.

But what is missing in what passes for analysis is accuracy.

The events of June 15 were certainly kicked off by people dressed in white hoodies and white masks, some of whom were clad in Canucks regalia. From the rolling of cars and setting them on fire to the smashing of windows in retail outlets, these white-clad individuals turn up again and again in videos from various sources.

Who are these folks? Time will tell.

Regardless, they were the catalyst for the mob mentality that ultimately took over with seemingly otherwise normal young folks, albeit alcohol-fueled, testosterone-laden fools.

And those armchair quarterbacks who seem to think that Chu booted it with his deployment of VPD personnel are wrong.

The chief has a total of about 500-600 deployable police officers in uniform at best. With a full mandatory call out, given that Vancouver has to be covered on a 24-hour clock, the most the VPD could muster is somewhere around 400 officers in a full deployment for a particular event.

For Game 7, that was augmented by as many as 100 additional RCMP tactical officers -- at a significant cost.

People think the VPD is a big department. Reality is something different.

It's actually smaller than Calgary's police force - one without a budget to pay hundreds of extra officers from other jurisdictions and forces outside the city to be on standby and at the ready downtown.

The RCMP charges the City of Vancouver for any and all resource requests.

'Adapt and overcome' is the watchword for the VPD in a major crowd situation.

That is what we witnessed.

Any criticism of the chief constable for that is misplaced, indeed.