Vancouver police chief fires back at critic

Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu is firing back at the man who claimed police ignored his advice contained in the 1994 Stanley Cup riot report, saying the media were misled by the consultant.
Vancouver's police chief is out to discredit a man who has criticized his department's handling of the riot, the CBC's Kirk Williams reports 2:57

Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu is firing back at the man who claimed police ignored his advice contained in the 1994 Stanley Cup riot report, saying the media were misled by the consultant.

Chu has been facing criticism in the media for the police preparations of the downtown celebrations last week for the final game of the Stanley Cup finals. After the Canucks lost, rioters in the crowd of more 100,000 rampaged for three hours, damaging and looting 29 businesses and burning more than a dozen vehicles.

Bob Whitelaw said police ignored the advice in the report on the 1994 Stanley Cup riot, which he said he helped write. ((CBC))

Chu has defended police planning for the event and on Tuesday he posted an open letter to his staff on the Vancouver police website dismissing the criticisms of consultant Bob Whitelaw.

Whitelaw has been quoted in several media sources, including the CBC, over the last few days saying that during Wednesday's riot the Vancouver police did not follow recommendations from a report about the 1994 riot which he helped author.

Not the report's author, says chief

But Chu says Whitelaw has been misrepresenting himself and only wrote an earlier report that was rejected as unreasonable by police and discarded. The chief says all of the recommendations in the final 1994 report were followed.

"Many of Mr. Whitelaw's recommendations in his discarded report were rejected as unrealistic, and recommended a police reaction disproportionate to the offence being committed," said Chu.

Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu says the consultant who claimed police ignored his advice contained in the 1994 Stanley Cup riot report, saying the media was mislead by the man about his role in writing the report. (CBC)

Chu said Whitelaw was not involved in the writing of the final report.

"I confirmed yesterday that Mr. Whitelaw did not write the 1994 report, and that he has misrepresented to the news media his involvement with the B.C. Police Commission," said Chu.

"On the internet, there are many news pictures of Mr. Whitelaw holding the final 1994 B.C. Police Commission report," Chu said. 

"It is unfortunate reporters were misled and didn't test the veracity of Mr. Whitelaw's statements which at best appear to be incorrect or at worse, misleading and false."

The chief also attacked Whitelaw's other claims, saying he exaggerated his involvment with police forces in other cities.

"One recent article I read has him assisting the Montreal and Calgary police with their playoff runs. I talked to the chiefs in both Calgary and Montreal. Both of these agencies have never had any relationship with Mr. Whitelaw nor have these police agencies heard of him," said Chu.

Chu originally blamed the riot on a core group of anarchists and criminals, but on Monday he said police now know that many who participated had no previous record. He has yet to say how many officers were on duty that night.

Former commissioner confirms Chu's claims

The final 1994 report was issued by the B.C. Police Commission, but did not include the names of any authors. 

When contacted by CBC News, the former chair of the B.C. Police Commission, Mr. David Edgar, confirmed Chu's statement that Whitelaw's original report was thrown out and his work was not part of the final report.

Edgar said Whitelaw had no background in security and was only hired to write up the work of investigators.

"For him to say that he was the author of the report is simply wrong. He wasn't an investigator, as such. He was involved in some of the investigative work. But he was not there as an investigator. He was there as a writer," he told CBC News.

Whitelaw's contributions to the 1994 report were deemed unacceptable and nothing he submitted was used in the final version, said Edgar.

Whitelaw responds

When contacted by CBC News Whitelaw did not back down on his claim that he helped write the report.

"During the past week I have tried to be helpful to the media in response to the riot…. Upon reflection I should have started each interview by saying that I was a member of the team and the report was released by the police commission," he wrote.

"During the last month I was reaching out with awareness of a report that was issued 17 years ago and that might have some value today. I will wait with interest for the findings of the independent review," he said.

After the 2011 riot, Whitelaw issued a statement saying he was an investigator for the 1994 report.

"I was appointed in June 1994 by the British Columbia Police Commission and the Attorney General of British Columbia to investigate the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot.  At the time I was seconded from the B.C. Office of the Comptroller General as an independent investigator to fact-find, examine, analyze, report findings and make recommendations," he said in the statement.

When he was interviewed by several media outlets, including CBC News, he said he helped write the report for the then B.C. Police Commission and found it very frustrating to watch TV coverage of the riot in Vancouver from his home in Ottawa.

"I got out my report, I got out my background papers, and then just started that mathematical checkoff: 'Oops they missed that. Oops they missed that,'" he said.

"Things went amiss. The plan seemed to go out the window, the police plan, and there was no command and control," said Whitelaw. "Once the incidents began to start, the police, in my opinion, many of them just stood to the side waiting for the next order."