Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Naughty Offenders Get Police Greeting Cards Urging Them to Reform

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Naughty Offenders Get Police Greeting Cards Urging Them to Reform

Article excerpt

Police send out greeting cards to offenders

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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Police aren't expecting to turn Canada's former homicide capital into Whoville, but they are hoping a new Christmas card with a twist might grow the hearts of at least a few Grinches.

The Abbotsford Police Department has mailed a stack of holiday greeting cards to prolific criminal offenders in the sprawling British Columbia city urging them to change their ways this season.

Between 50 and 100 carefully-selected recipients will open a card that features Santa dressed in police tactical gear and carrying a machine gun.

The snowflake-coated script on the front asks "Which list will you be on next year?"

Inside it 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."

A telephone helpline number is included.

Department spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald said police are making a sincere effort to connect.

"As a community we can reach out to some people and give them a different message. You can't expect people to change if the only options provided for them are to continue doing the same thing," he said.

"Some people might think that's naive or that's optimistic to think they're going to give you the time of day through your greeting card, but we look at it like, if we don't present an option, then how can we expect people to select that option?"

Abbotsford ranked No. 1 in per-capita homicides in 2008 and 2009, the Fraser Valley city 65 kilometres east of Vancouver largely plagued at the time by gang and drug violence. The designation prompted the police department to begin a concerted effort to cut-down such crimes.

The holiday card campaign is an extension of other anti-gang messaging, and was designed in-house with partial inspiration from Yuletide cards sent by U.K. police targeting seasonal crime like shoplifting.

The same card, only with a different greeting on the inside, will be sent as the department's regular Christmas mail-out. …

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