Amid an overall rise in assaults against officers this year, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) reported today (September 8) at a news conference that 11 officers were injured or assaulted over the Labour Day long weekend.
VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison provided four examples from the weekend.
On September 5, staff at a grocery store in Kitsilano called police about a man causing a disturbance and behaving violently and erratically inside the store. When police arrived at the location, the suspect and police became involved in a physical confrontation. Three officers were injured—one officer had cuts and scratches, a second officer had blood spat in his face, and a third officer sustained an ankle injury.
After a female suspect stabbed a man on his hand and stole his bike, officers arrested a 21-year-old woman near Knight Street and East 54th Avenue on September 6. As she was being arrested, she allegedly spat in the face and hair of the officer who was reading out the Canadian charter rights to the suspect. The officer was taken to hospital due to the risk of infectious diseases.
A woman called police on September 6 to report that her ex-boyfriend had thrown a rock through her window at her apartment on Dundas Street, had threatened her, and was hiding in a nearby bush. When police arrived, the suspect attempted to run away and later resisted arrest. As officers tried to control the suspect, the suspect’s brother tackled one of the officers and elbowed another officer in the head. The officers sustained minor injuries, and the suspects were taken into custody.
While patrolling Powell Street in East Vancouver on the evening of September 6, officers spotted a male suspect who was wanted on a B.C.–wide warrant for a violent offence. The suspect fled from police and scaled a metal fence but officers managed to arrest him. Three officers were injured during the short foot pursuit, and one of them required stitches and hospitalization.
The VPD did not state if any of the suspects sustained injuries or were hospitalized. The Georgia Straight is contacting the VPD for further information.
Addison stated that the motivations for many of these assaults remain unknown, and that there can be varied or a combination of factors, ranging from not wanting to be arrested to anti-police sentiment.
“We understand there’s a certain level of risk and violence that does come with the job that we sign up for,” Addison said. “However, what we are continuing to see throughout the city is a disturbing number of people who appear to be emboldened or feel entitled to put the safety of police officers at risk while our frontline officers are simply out trying to do their job, which is to keep people safe and maintain order throughout the city.”
The VPD stated that there has been a notable increase in assaults on police officers. From January to July this year, 108 police officers were assaulted, which is a 64 percent increase from 2018 when 66 officers were assaulted.
Earlier this summer, the VPD also reported that there had been an increase in random physical and sexual assaults against citizens throughout the city, particularly in the Granville Entertainment District.