Vancouver's top cop blasts 'riot expert'




VANCOUVER - A day after tough questions about political interference in the tactical handling of violent post-hockey riots, Vancouver’s police chief tried to discredit his most vocal critic.

Chief Jim Chu released an all-staff memo Tuesday, accusing “self-proclaimed riot expert” Bob Whitelaw of misrepresenting his expertise to the media.

Whitelaw, hired by the provincial police commission during its review of the 1994 Stanley Cup riot, has publicly criticized Vancouver Police Department's planning for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and its handling of the ensuing riot.

“Mr. Whitelaw lives and works in Ottawa,” Chu said in the memo. “He has never met with me or any senior staff to learn what we have done in the 17 years since the 1994 riot.”

The attack on Whitelaw comes as Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Chu are facing questions about decisions that attracted upward of 100,000 people downtown to watch the Cup final on jumbo screens in live fan sites.

Critics have said insufficient numbers of police were deployed and reinforcements arrived too late to stop the escalating violence.

On Tuesday, city manager Penny Ballem was accused of meddling in police tactical decisions in the command centre. Ballem admitted she was in the room that night but only communicated with city crews and didn’t direct police actions.

“This is really a red herring,” said Daniel Fontaine, former chief of staff to ex-Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan. “Releasing this lengthy letter is a sign they’re worried public opinion is turning on them.

“I think people will be cynical because of the timing of this attack.”

David Edgar, former chairman of the now-defunct B.C. Police Commission, said Whitelaw was hired as a “wordsmith” to assemble the 1994 report, and the Ottawa-based consultant’s claims he’d written the report and was an investigator “bordered on fraud.”

Whitelaw was surprised by Edgar's words, and provided QMI Agency a glowing thank-you letter he said Edgar wrote upon the review’s conclusion.

An independent reviewer, yet to be named, is due to examine the events that led to the riot, including police crowd control planning and alcohol availability. (From Toronto Sun:


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