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VANOC's Furlong to co-chair riot review

Former head of VANOC John Furlong will co-chair the independent review of the planning that led up to the June 15 Stanley Cup riots, the B.C. government announced today.

Furlong will share lead investigator duties with Doug Keefe, former Nova Scotia deputy attorney general.

According to a statement from the provincial government, "the combination of an out-of-province perspective and local knowledge" will help ensure the review meets its goals.

Furlong's qualifications, according to the statement, include his work leading up to, and during, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, during which he co-ordinated "government agencies, including police forces and security agencies, to stage large, safe public events and celebrations."

During a telephone press conference for media on Tuesday, Furlong said VANOC was responsible for managing large crowds in multiple areas during the 2010 Olympics, which he says "was the largest event ever staged on Canadian soil, the largest security event ever executed on Canadian soil."

Among Keefe's credentials are almost 30 years working for the government of Nova Scotia and leading numerous "high-profile commissions, investigations and task forces in Nova Scotia," including an inquiry into a 1992 mining disaster in which 26 miners died.

According to a June 20 press release by the province, the independent review will focus on the Vancouver Police Department's plan for the event, how lessons from the 1994 riot were integrated into the plan, the availability of liquor at public events and a plan for how the City of Vancouver and the VPD can ensure a similar riot doesn’t break out at future events.

Solicitor General Shirley Bond said during the phone conference that the government will provide Furlong and Keefe with office space and administrative support during the review process. "We've also been working to identify technical experts in police operations and crowd management that the co-chairs may wish to access in support of their review," she said.

The review will be presented to the provincial government, City and police board by August 31, and will be made public.

Keefe added on the call that "with the promised resources and the support that we have at our disposal... we are confident that we can complete the task ahead by the end of August."

*Story updated Tuesday evening.

Ainslie Cruickshank is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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