Complete text of Chief Constable Jim Chu's statement Thursday regarding the Olympics:
In the past few weeks concerns have been raised about whether individual rights and freedoms will be suppressed during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Opponents to the games, police critics and hopefully well-meaning journalists have all painted a dire picture predicting exactly what the police are planning to do to take away these freedoms.
I am asking everyone today who is speaking on behalf of the police to please stop.
The scenarios you describe, sometimes simply in an effort to generate fear and conflict, are becoming ridiculous.
Up until now, the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit has taken the lead in speaking to the overall issues around security planning and game-time operations within their mandate.
As the games draw closer and we move from planning to implementation, the VPD will be available to address questions around those security matters which fall within our mandate.
To set the context, I want to remind you that the Integrated Security Unit, of which we are an integral partner, is responsible for securing competition and non-competition venues, protecting Internationally Protected Persons, and ensuring safe movement of athletes, officials and the Olympic Family within Metro Vancouver and Whistler area.
The remainder of the City of Vancouver (known as the Urban Domain) is the responsibility of the VPD.
Criminal investigations, except for national terrorism cases, will be the responsibility of the VPD.
The issues around city bylaw infractions will be handled by the VPD.
The issues around protests in the City will primarily be handled by the VPD.
So now, I would like to make the record perfectly clear. Our goal for the 2010 Olympics is that they be safe, accessible and welcoming.
We want the world to appreciate that Canada is an open and free society that places the highest values on the rights of the individual, not the least of which are the rights to free assembly and speech.
The VPD has adopted values grounded in human rights principles. These are:
- Justification - All police actions shall be pursued towards a necessary and legitimate policing objective and shall be legally justifiable.
- Proportionality - The risk and impact of police actions shall be proportional to the priority of the policing objectives, and the severity of the situation in need of intervention.
- Non-intrusiveness - Police actions should be the least intrusive available, as required to achieve success in fulfilling policing responsibilities.
To celebrate these rights and to ensure public safety, we have taken steps to facilitate both the public gatherings of celebrants and protestors.
Working with the City of Vancouver and the Integrated Security Unit we have made sure that, where possible, areas in high profile and visible vicinities near Olympic venues are not earmarked for other purposes that would push public gatherings further away.
Recently, a great deal of attention has been paid to our efforts to protect the rights of all those who plan to gathering publicly during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
I think its time to clear the air on this topic hopefully once and for all.
There are no protest-only zones, no demonstration pens and no corrals.
No extraordinary efforts will be make to restrict protests or contain them because of the Olympics.
We will uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms before, during and after the games.
Protestors are free to gather in any public space as long as their actions are legal.
It is worth saying again: protestors are free to gather in any public space as long as their actions are legal.
To repeat my message, we have made sure that areas in high profile and visible vicinities near Olympic venues in Vancouver are not earmarked for other purposes that would push public gatherings further away.
If any group would like to suggest locations where they can protest, that will keep them safe and ensure visibility, we will take these suggested Vancouver locations into consideration.
Hopefully this will bring an end to charges of "protest pens and corrals."
Just as ridiculous in my opinion, is the charge that the VPD will enter homes to confiscate signage.
Once again, I would ask that those speaking on our behalf, regardless of your motives, please stop, or at least ask us.
The additional powers that the City has obtained are intended to control unauthorized marketing.
If normal processes, such as a warning, ticket or summons, do not convince a person to abide by a by-law, in extreme circumstances, a warrant to enter premises can be obtained.
We have been assured by City license inspectors that they will be focusing on "guerrilla marketing" efforts that are prominent, and near official venues.
They will not be focusing on signage that is a political or personal statement.
The VPD has no intention of entering the home of any Vancouver resident for a sign issue during the Games. We are not the sign police.
If City enforcement officials obtain a valid warrant through the courts, the VPD will only stand by and keep the peace while they execute their warrant.
As I said earlier, our focus during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is that they be safe, accessible and welcoming.
Our priority, as always, will be maintaining public safety.