Long-weekend violence: 11 officers injured, assaulted in Vancouver

A string of violent incidents over the weekend in Vancouver led to multiple officers being injured, local police said.

Eleven officers were reportedly hurt or assaulted over the Labour Day weekend, the Vancouver Police Department said in a news release Wednesday.

In one incident, an officer went to hospital Monday after being spat at in the face while trying to arrest a 21-year-old woman. The woman was a suspect in a stabbing and bike theft near Knight Street and East 54th Avenue. VPD said the officer went to be checked out "due to the risk of infectious diseases."

In another report, officers went to an apartment on Dundas Street after a woman called about her ex-boyfriend who allegedly threatened her, threw a rock through a window and hid in a bush nearby.

"The suspect, who was armed with a knife, tried to run from police, then resisted arrest," VPD's statement said. "As the officers struggled to control the violent suspect, the man’s brother tackled one of the officers and elbowed another in the head."

Both men were taken to jail.

"Policing is a tough job, and every day our front-line officers put their own safety at risk," said Sgt. Steve Addison in a news release. "Unfortunately, we continue to see officers getting hurt while trying to do their jobs and keep others out of harm's way."

On Sunday, police were called to a grocery store in Kitsilano. Officers were told a man was "acting violently and causing a disturbance." When they arrived, police said, there was a physical confrontation resulting in three officers being injured. One had blood spat on him, another had some cuts and the third is off work due to an ankle injury.

“The number of assaults against police officers in Vancouver and across the province has been on a steady incline,” said Ralph Kaisers, president of the Vancouver Police Union. “We’re obviously hoping that won’t continue, and at some point that cycle is going to stop.”

According to the VPD, 108 officers were assaulted in the city between January and July of this year. That marks a 64 per cent increase from 2018, the department said.

"There's a certain amount of violence and risk that we have to endure as we're responding to our calls and we accept that," Addison said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

"We're concerned by the level of anti-police sentiment and what we see is people feeling emboldened or entitled to take liberties."

In addition to ongoing public conversations around defunding the police, spurred by instances like the killing of George Floyd last year, Kaisers believes restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are contributing to a disdain for law enforcement.

“People have been cooped up for 18 months," he said. "Maybe having an authority figure trying to enforce the law is seen as an opportunity for them to lash out.”