British Columbia

Vancouver police cite troubling trend after 11 officers assaulted over Labour Day weekend

The Vancouver Police Department says 11 of its officers are recovering after being injured or assaulted over the Labour Day weekend.

Vancouver police say violence against its officers has increased by 64 per cent since 2018

A photo of an arm patch, with the Vancouver Police Department logo on it.
The Vancouver Police Department says it is seeing a troubling trend of increased violence against its on-duty officers. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Vancouver Police Department says 11 of its officers are recovering after being injured or assaulted over the Labour Day weekend.

Sgt. Steve Addison wrote in a statement Wednesday that the officers were injured while on duty.

"Every police officer understands the dangers and risks associated with their work," Addison wrote.

"However, we're concerned by the number of people who now seem emboldened and feel entitled to assault officers and put their lives at risk."

Addison detailed three incidents including one involving a 21-year-old woman Monday, who was arrested near Knight Street and East 54th Avenue in connection with a stabbing and robbery.

Incidents of note

The woman allegedly spat in an officer's face and hair while she was being read her Canadian charter rights. Addison said the officer had to be taken to hospital to assess the risk of infectious diseases from the woman's saliva.

That same day, two more officers were injured when the brother of a suspect involved in a domestic dispute on Dundas Street tackled one of the officers and elbowed another in the head. 

Later Monday, several officers were patrolling on Powell Street when they spotted a man who had a B.C.-wide warrant for a violent offence.  Three officers were injured during the arrest, one of whom required hospitalization and stitches, Addison wrote.

Troubling trend

On Sunday, police responded to a grocery store in Kitsilano when staff reported that a man was acting violently. All three officers were hurt, one of whom suffered cuts and scratches, another had blood spat on him, and the third is now off work with an ankle injury.

Vancouver police say the spate of weekend injuries follows a larger trend of increased violence against police.

The department says between January and July of this year, 108 officers were assaulted in Vancouver, which, it says, is a 64 per cent increase from 2018.

'Extraordinary circumstances'

Vancouver's Mayor Kennedy Stewart says these are not ordinary times.

In an interview Monday, Stewart said all front-line workers are facing "extraordinary circumstances" during the pandemic, but he's particularly thankful the police have brought this to the public's attention now.

"Sometimes the strain of COVID is not as understood as it should be," he told CBC news Monday.

"This is affecting police, talking to some firefighters yesterday, talking to health-care workers, all who are facing increasing levels of interaction with the public and often they're, you know, either threatened or assaulted. And that's totally unacceptable.

"That has to stop."

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