British Columbia

'We do treat each protest as unique': Vancouver police explain tactics

Sgt. Aaron Roed says each demonstration is dealt with differently and officers move in after a public safety commander assesses the situation.

Vancouver police waited more than 24 hours to break up Port of Vancouver blockade

Some supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were arrested Tuesday for blocking the Port of Vancouver at Clark Drive and Hastings Street. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Vancouver police are attending protests almost daily these days and say their approach to each one is never the same.

February has been marked by numerous demonstrations and blockades organized by people acting in support of hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation who are opposed to a pipeline project on their traditional territory in northwestern B.C.

On Tuesday, officers arrested six people for violating a court injunction and blocking a key entrance to the Port of Vancouver. Those protesters were at the port entrance for more than 24 hours before police moved in.

Vancouver police Sgt. Aaron Roed joined The Early Edition Wednesday to explain the police department's tactics.

"We are not going to deploy our resources at the drop of the hat," Roed said. 

He said officers have attended several protest events since Feb. 7 and they have varied in intensity. Some smaller roving demonstrations have only lasted a couple of hours, while others, like the port blockade, can be longer stand-offs.

Roed said officers do not move in and make arrests until the force's public safety commanders determine it is necessary.

Six people arrested

"We do treat each protest as unique," said Roed, adding they respond accordingly depending on the situation at hand.

He said when it was apparent that Tuesday's protesters — who were violating a court injunction by blocking the port entrance — were not going to move, the public safety commanders made the decision to go in and remove them.

"Unfortunately, six people had to be arrested," said Roed, adding four women and two men were taken to the Vancouver police jail, charged with contempt of court, and released on promises to appear at a later court date.

Roed said in that type of case, officers would remind protesters they are violating an injunction to give them time to relocate, and are taken into custody if they do not comply.

According to Roed, police officers maintain neutrality at protests, regardless of the cause of the demonstrations.

With files from The Early Edition