Thursday, 16 June 2011

Vancouver Police Perform As Well as the Canucks in Game 7 *Updated*

You know, it really doesn't take a brain surgeon, heck I don't even think it takes a doctor, to figure out that when you have a major sporting event, large crowds of drinking men in the streets, and a history of rioting after said sporting events, that you should have riot police (and a lot of them) on standby in case things go awry.

But apparently this was too much for the Vancouver Police Department to string together.

Instead you have videos circulating of large groups jumping over fires (too bad nobody slipped), burning police vehicles, trashing private businesses, and wreaking havoc. For those of you reading this back in North America make no mistake, this is a black eye for Canada. Given the upcoming visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge the media here has been keeping a close eye on the Great White North - and the rioting in Vancouver is one of the top headlines here in the UK.

Just to be clear: Last night's riots in Vancouver are getting more press coverage in the UK than the G20 riots in Toronto did. This is especially embarrassing because if there is one thing that UK police are good at it is controlling crowds at sporting events (um perhaps someone from the VPD should come over to learn a few lessons).

What could have been a great night for Vancouver has become an international embarrassment. Nonetheless the city's reputation will recover. I am not sure I can say the same for the police who were totally unprepared and showed little authority. They now look like eunuchs in front of the international press.

Where are your officers?” I asked Constable Jana McGuinness.

“We have a full public safety unit deployed right now,” she said. “We have hundreds of officers, a full deployment. They’re all over.” Well, no, they weren’t. Some were standing in a circle a few metres from the constable, but they still weren’t out in force on West Georgia Street. I’m not blaming police for what happened this night. But did they not anticipate the worst?