The Abbotsford, British Columbia Police Department sent holiday greetings to the usual suspects this week according to a story by Rochelle Baker published in yesterday’s Abbotsford Times.
Abbotsford is a city of about 170,000 people near the United States border and about 40 miles southwest of Vancouver. It is the safest city in that part of Canada. Abbotsford had three murders this year and none in 2011 but it thinks it has a “gang problem” and it thinks the Christmas card pictured above will help. The local cops sent the greeting to “prolific offenders, property offenders and persons known for drug and gang activity in Abbotsford as part of Operation Resolution,” Constable Ian MacDonald told the Times.
Why The Snappy Name
MacDonald, who apparently has been thinking about this holiday greeting since sometime last Spring, defined prolific offenders as residents with ten or more criminal convictions. Property offenders have been accused of theft. Gang members and drug dealers are people the police think are gang members and drug dealers.
The mass mailing is called “Operation Resolution,” according to Constable MacDonald, because police believe portraying Santa as a Storm Trooper will be “a reminder that the recipients have the opportunity to make different choices in life if they ‘resolve’ to do so.”
The greeting inside the card reads, “We believe it is never too late to make a better choice for your life. For the sake of your family and for your own sake, consider 2013 the year you choose a new and better life.” MacDonald said he hoped the photo and the message inside would “provoke reflection and change.” The interior of the card also includes the phone number for a local “helpline.” The Constable told the Times, “the department already receives phone calls from people asking for help to leave the gang lifestyle. Whoever phones the helpline will get a call back from someone with particular expertise or who already knows the individual from previous contact.”
MacDonald did not tell the local paper who will run the “helpline.” Presumably, the number will ring a phone at the police station.
Maggie Aronoff, who runs the local John Howard Society is skeptical about the Christmas Card. John Howard was a 18th Century prison reformer. The group was founded to help prisoners reentering society find housing, clothing and a job. Aronoff said, “You’ve got a mixed message with a Santa with gun and bullet proof vest. I’m not sure who would reach out to that…. Kids might view that. What kind of relationship with police is this setting up?”
The Santa Goon on the front of the card wearing body armor, what appears to be multiple M-4 assault rifles, tear gas grenades, a Fritz helmet and extra magazines is really local Police Chief Bob Rich. The same card, with a different greeting, will be sent to the city’s politicians including the mayor and whoever else gets Christmas cards from the cops.