The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has mailed out its annual Christmas greeting to about 100 criminals and troublemakers in the city.
This year’s version shows Santa – again portrayed by Chief Bob Rich – holding out a present. The message on the outside of the card states, “If you stop believing in Santa you get underwear.”
On the inside, it says, “But if you stop believing in yourself you get nowhere.”
This is the fifth year the APD has sent out Christmas cards to individuals involved in gang, drug and property crimes, with the idea that they consider changing their lifestyle.
“We sincerely hope that some of the recipients will reflect on their lives and be motivated to make changes,” said Const. Ian MacDonald.
The cards provide an APD hotline (604-864-4777) for people to call if they are willing to make a change.
MacDonald said a few past recipients have called to commend the APD on the initiative, while others have sought advice or just wanted to talk.
MacDonald recalled that one man called the line to share his story, saying he committed property crimes in order to earn money for survival.
He didn’t believe that he qualified for social assistance, nor did he know how to access it, but he wanted to change his life. The call taker informed him about his options and referred him to the proper sources.
“He seemed very sincere (in wanting to change),” MacDonald said, although he is not sure what happened to the man after that call.
The program – called Operation Resolution – began in 2012 and sparked controversy and international media attention when the greeting card featured the chief dressed as Santa carrying an assault rifle and wearing tactical gear.
Cards from subsequent years have been less bold, but MacDonald said they all convey the same message of encouraging positive change.
(BELOW: The Abbotsford Police Department’s previous Christmas cards are shown, from top to bottom, from the years 2012 to 2015.)