With an estimated 250,000 people expected to arrive in Vancouver for the 2010 games in February many residents’ thoughts are turning towards security. In a city that’s been dubbed “No Fun City” by the rest of the world for our archaic liquor laws and Big Brother attitude towards law enforcement, what can we expect for the 2010 games? The 2010 Olympic Winter Games is not only going to be an awe-inspiring athletic event, but with the many Cultural Olympiad events scheduled to take place around the city during the month of February we can expect a great many people enjoying all that the city has to offer, well into the evenings. What can we expect from our local police force in response to this?
Our fair city seems to be plagued with images of the RCMP going well beyond necessary force in many cases. The case involving the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of the Vancouver RCMP in October of 2007 has been receiving huge amounts of media attention with many wondering if the RCMP have over-stepped their bounds. One of the officers on the scene for the Dzieka?ski tasering is actually awaiting charges for impaired driving causing death in an unrelated incident, which makes one wonder about the moral code of our local law enforcement. In 1999 the Vancouver RCMP staged involuntary and illegal searches for alcohol at the Symphony of Fire fireworks show on unsuspecting commuters that were entering the city’s downtown core, in an attempt to curb unruly behavior. They issued a public apology soon after and the searches were discontinued. A young man was once given a ticket for “disturbing the peace” on Canada Day. What was he up to? Driving down Robson Street waving a Canadian flag out of his window and honking his car horn. If it’s a fine-able offense to show Canadian pride, what will happen once the Olympics are in full swing? It’s already been reported that the RCMP will have a strong presence at all of the Olympic venues, and that many ordinarily benign items will not be allowed into these events. What items? Ordinary things, like umbrellas, cameras equipped with flash, folding chairs and any sporting equipment. The RCMP have already stated that bringing any of these (or other banned items) can result in being barred from the event, or worse.
One begins to wonder; with the massive influx of tourists expected to flood Vancouver in February, will they end up being tasered for being too rowdy after a gold medal win? Local nightclubs and restaurants have many alcohol-related restrictions. Overflow from nightclubs could potentially leave thousands of visitors and locals drunk and on the streets looking to continue their party with no place to go. Translink will be offering extended services during the month of February on most of the major routes, but when downtown nightclubs close their doors at 4am, and the last train out of the city leaves at 3am, we may have a lot of stranded tourists and locals alike. Hopefully the extended hours will help to alleviate some of these problems.
This is already a problem that the local RCMP have attempted to address, but with little effect. Add to that the increased police presence and heightened security teams throughout the city one wonders about potentially heated situations arising. Our local police force can hardly use any more negative press. The Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit has stated that all employee leave and training will be suspended and that all policing partners will be available for duty during the Olympics. One hopes that with extra police forces out patrolling our city as well as added security at the Olympic venues then a captivating time will be had by all and that stress levels on both sides will be kept to a minimum.
More on this as we approach the games.