Gun-toting Santa card creates media buzz

The Abbotsford Police Department's initiative has drawn attention from across the world, including high-profile TV talk shows.

The front of the Christmas card being sent out by the Abbotsford Police Department depicts Chief Bob Rich in a Santa costume and tactical gear.

Kelly and Michael showed it on their live morning show on Tuesday.

Anderson Cooper wants to talk about it on Friday.

Media from across the nation – and beyond – have published or aired stories about it.

The Abbotsford Police Department’s (APD) Christmas card to criminals has garnered more attention than anyone could have imagined.

“Certainly, I didn’t think it would get this much attention,” said APD spokesman Cont. Ian MacDonald Tuesday morning in between fielding media requests from across North America.

On Monday, the APD announced an initiative called “Operation Resolution,” which involved including gangsters, property offenders and prolific criminals on its annual list of Christmas card recipients.

The front of the card features Police Chief Bob Rich in a Santa costume, decked out in tactical gear and carrying an assault rifle.

That image was included on all holiday cards mailed by the APD this year, including to its business associates, but the greeting on the inside was different for the crooks.

That message encouraged them to call a special APD number if they wanted to talk about changing their lifestyle.

The initiative has drawn the attention of such high-profile shows as Live with Kelly and Michael, a talk show based in New York City featuring Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, who displayed the card in their opening segment on Tuesday.

MacDonald said he also received a request from a producer with the new daytime talk show hosted by American journalist and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

Cooper wants to show and discuss the card on the program on Friday.

MacDonald speculates that Operation Resolution has drawn so much attention because it is unique and edgy, although the depiction of Santa carrying a gun has also drawn criticism.

“Who wants to see Santa with a machine gun? … Very bad idea. This pic is so offensive,” reads one post on the Abbotsford News’ Facebook page.

But MacDonald said the majority of the comments have been favourable.

“We knew the image was moving towards edgy … but we tend to do things that way – with a little more of an edge – and we’re OK with that,” MacDonald said.

The APD has also fielded complaints about taxpayers’ dollars being spent on such an idea, but MacDonald said the only expenses were for paper, printing and postage, amounting to “significantly less than $1,000.”

He said the “minimal cost” is worth it, if it encourages someone to escape their criminal lifestyle, which benefits the entire community.

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