Inside IRIT - the riot investigation team 0
The morning IRIT briefing at the VPD headquarters in Vancouver, Oct. 13, 2011. The Integrated Riot Investigation Team (IRIT) is a 67-member team working to identify and track down suspected Stanley Cup rioters. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
Taped inside a cubicle where a police officer spends hours painstakingly pouring over dozens of photos is an Old West-style 'Wanted' poster.
The fugitive pictured dons a Canucks jersey; a modern-day urban cowboy authorities are hunting as if to collect a cash reward.
Since the Stanley Cup riot, blame has been thrown at politicians, media and the city's youth. But at the core of the frenzy, the online vigilante justice and the tearful confessions, the Vancouver Police Department only has one goal.
"We're going to bring these people to justice," said Det. Const. Christian Lowe.
When the investigation concludes, police expect to lay charges against 500 to 700 suspects. It will be the largest number of suspects charged stemming from a single incident in Canadian history. It's also the largest volume of video forensic evidence in a single case ever.
After the 1994 Stanley Cup riot, police collected 100 hours of VHS footage. Video kiosks were placed in local malls where the public could review evidence and submit information about suspects. The result was a 100% conviction rate in the 106 charges submitted.
This time, police face a much larger volume of footage: more than 2,000 hours - a number that continues to grow - on more than 100 digital formats.
Lowe is a file coordinator on the VPD's Integrated Riot Investigation Team (IRIT). Under intense scrutiny, IRIT has taken on the challenge of hunting down each suspect.
The 38-year-old Lowe speaks while sitting in a stark-white conference room deep in the VPD's headquarters. The floor outside was once divided into different sections: identity theft, major crimes, gangs. Since June, the riot investigation has taken over much of the third floor. Each desk has a sign of an officer's name and letters that say, 'IRIT.'
"I was very angry," Lowe said of first seeing the riot on television as he sat at home. "I remember watching and getting so angry, I had to turn it off."
Insp. Joanne Boyle, IRIT's assistant team commander, co-ordinates logistics and personnel. According to her, key experts and investigators were brought in as early as June 17. Although officers came from agencies across the Fraser Valley, Boyle said each has the same drive to see rioters held accountable.
"People here are dedicated and working diligently to meet our self-imposed deadlines and what the public demands of us," she said, adding while logistics are a challenge, there's never been lost time. "There is no faster way to do this."
But even with the huge amounts of mixed public feedback, Insp. Les Yeo, IRIT's team commander, is confident in his team's ability to weather the storm and focus on the task at hand. Yeo, one of North America's top kidnapping experts, believes integrity is at the key of this investigation.
"You just do the best you can. As long as you do everything with integrity, it will all come out fine in the end."