CHIEF CONSTABLE JIM CHU
It has been two months almost to the day since our city was victimized by hundreds of thugs and rioters and no one is more frustrated than I am that every last one of them is not before the courts or in prison as we speak.
The riot happened spontaneously.
Many of us wish that the arrest and conviction of those involved could happen just as quickly. But as we all know, for better or worse, we are not living in that type of world.
Even a small simple investigation can take weeks or longer to complete. This is the largest investigation ever conducted—in terms of numbers of suspects in one event – in Vancouver and possibly in Canada.
It will take months before all the evidence is processed and we are ready to make arrests.
Some of you wonder why we can’t act as quickly here as the police and courts appear to be acting in Britain.
There is a detailed answer to that question that I suspect most of you are not interested in, but the short answer is that Canada is not Britain. Our laws are different, our courts are different and our riots are different.
To compare us might provoke some entertaining conflict and column fodder, but it is neither fair nor accurate.
In a moment, I will invite Staff Sergeant Lee Patterson, who has served as a police officer in both countries, to provide you with more insight.
Let me make this clear – I am not complaining about our system of justice; rather, I am explaining why the wheels of justice appear to be grinding more slowly in this case.
As I have explained before, the challenge faced by our 50-member team of investigators is massive.
They are making headway, however, and today I would like to share some of that information with you.
The team has identified 259 separate criminal events so far, which is an increase of 26% since last month.
Please keep in mind that each of these events could have as many as 300 individuals involved, such as the looting of London Drugs.
The number of identified suspects has climbed by 15% to 268.
They have assigned 745 tasks, a number that is up 116% since last month.
They are investigating 392 Crime Stoppers tips and 160 tips that were left on voicemail.
A total of 41 people have turn themselves in so far.
And there is more news.
The Integrated Riot Investigation Team will be working with LEVA – the “Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association” – to go over footage of the riot at the National Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing Lab at the University of Indianapolis.
They have the physical resources there to allow our investigators to analyze the more than 1600 hours of riot footage in weeks, rather than the estimated two years it would take us to do this by ourselves.
We are also committed to keeping the public informed of our progress.
It is highly unusual for a police department to share with the public the progress it is making in any investigation, but we will soon be launching a new website dedicated to doing just that.
The website will keep a running tally on the statistics we announced today along with pictures and videos where we are seeking more information and other developments in this massive case.
Most importantly, it will contain the pictures of 150 new suspects.
Even though we acknowledge the frustration of those who wish these suspects were already in jail, and we hear and share your frustration, there are many reasons why we must proceed at this pace.
Our diligence and thoroughness will ensure that we lay the highest number of charges and obtain the greatest number of convictions with the most severe penalties.
If you are in favour of speed, you are in favour of more acquittals and lighter sentences.
If we rush cases to court, we risk losing them by being ineffective and inefficient.
We must make sure that before we recommend a charge to the prosecution team that we give them the best possible evidence to obtain a conviction and an appropriate penalty.
That in itself is a task complicated in so many ways.
Some people have been brought in by their parents when there is actually no evidence that we can identify that they committed a criminal act.
Other people have confessed to a small offense when detailed examination of many video sources indicates they are also involved in more serious crimes.
Rushing these people into court without a full examination of all the evidence would produce weak cases with acquittals, bad case law and little or no penalties. None of us want that.
All evidence we receive has to be properly identified from its source, its history and its credibility. Imagine the nightmare of putting together that compilation.
But let’s be clear, if you participated in the riot, you should not have a false sense of security because this is taking so long.
We are committed to finding you. It may not be tomorrow or next week but one day soon we will find you.
We will come to your workplace, your school or your home, but rest assured of one thing:
We will find you, arrest you, and take you to jail.
Video Association (LEVA)
- 600 members worldwide
- vast majority are video analysts from police agencies, mostly from the US and Canada
- 80 from Canada
- 16 currently are from BC Police agencies, including the RCMP
- The lab is the National Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing lab
- The facility is hosted at the University of Indianapolis, but the equipment is owned by LEVA
- The lab contains 20 of the most advanced forensic video analysis technology in the world from Avid Technology and Ocean Systems
- LEVA used to conduct all training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, but moved to the University in 2007
- The lab was established to train police video analysts and technicians
- there are seven 40-hour classes a year on four topics
- student size ranges from 19 to 72, depending on the type of course
- over 1000 individuals have taken at least one of the courses, many have taken all four courses
- The lab is available to the US Department of Justice in the event of a major incident in which large volumes of video are held as evidence
- LEVA maintains a Forensic Video Response Team in the event of a request from the DOJ or from any member organization – the Vancouver Police Department is a member agency
More info on the lab can be found on the LEVA website.