Sometimes it isn't enough just to DO a good job...
This week the Vancouver Police Department took the unusual step of issuing its 2004 Annual Report very publicly by publishing it as an insert in a major daily newspaper.
Unlike in the past where the report was printed on glossy paper and circulated only to the standard suspects like community policing offices, the Police Board and other stakeholder groups, this year the Department made the decision to distribute it far more broadly to the general public.
I think that this was a very smart use of our Police Department’s communications budget.
Instead of the regular $15,000 price tag for developing, printing and distributing the Annual Report in a style that the vast majority of Vancouver residents never saw, an extra $5000 spent to reach thousands more folks was truly money well spent. It also provides some transparency and accountability for a force that has been dogged by allegations that it is neither.
It is too true that the public often only reads about our police department, and our hard working police officers, in their times of trouble – the Stanley Park beatings and the Guns and Roses concert debacle come to mind.
The good stories just don’t get told.
This format, which is also downloadable in PDF format from the Vancouver Police website for those of you who missed it the first time, allows the Department to tell the tales that don’t get covered by a media world built on conflict and bad news.
It’s not like I’m blaming the media for that.
Unless the good news has a daring “police dog chases down would be triple-murderer” it simply can’t make it onto the limited pages available, especially when there are stories to report on horrific car accidents and drug-related crimes.
Beyond the standard financial and planning information you’d find in any annual report, this report introduces Vancouver residents and taxpayers to the people behind the badges and their stories of going above and beyond the call of duty.
It is refreshing and inspiring reading. And it beats the heck out of the insipid and bland epistles issued by most public bodies.
It also serves the very important purpose of reminding Vancouver residents that our police force is involved in much more than just chasing down bad guys and crowd control of the Celebration of Light fireworks display.
They support victims of crime, they develop and implement community initiatives and they work pretty darn hard protecting our most vulnerable citizens from exploitation and harm.
Suddenly I have a new appreciation for and pride in our local cops. Sometimes we just need a reminder of the big role that these guys play in our communities.
Kudos to a Police Department that isn’t afraid to innovate in order to tell its important story.
As seen today in 24 Hours Daily