What A Difference Perceptions Make

By August 19, 2014Hot Topic

By Mike Archer. Ever wondered why so many old people have the impression Abbotsford is a crime-ridden city and feel that the government should do something more than just enforce the law but change things in order to make it even more against the law to break the law?

Ever wondered how these old people get their information? Or why they seem unable to be convinced that they live in a safe community with crime rates which have dropped steadily and consistently throughout the last 40 years, in some cases because of good policing?

Ever wondered how the police manage to take up a whopping 47-49% of the tax hit municipal taxpayers pay every year despite the fact that crime is going down? Ever noticed no one questions the amount of money we spend on policing despite crime rates going down?

But if, as many old people seem to believe, crime is rampant in our city (based largely on what they read in the paper), why do the police seem unable to control crime? And, if they aren’t, why are we rewarding them by increasing their budget every year?

It really gets confusing when you make your decisions based on impressions rather than facts … doesn’t it.

Have a look at what two websites covering the same community look like just one week* after the Abbotsford Police Department refused to have anything more to do with Abbotsford Today because we are not part of the ‘real media.’

*The snapshots below were taken at approx. 15:30 Monday, August 18, 2014. Both websites have likely changed since then.

We have argued for years that the perhaps old media relies to heavily on the low-hanging-fruit of journalism – police press releases and the courthouse – to fill space. Furthermore; we have argued that it’s possible that the high percentage of police, crime and courthouse stories in newspapers leads to a skewed impression in the community that crime is much more prevalent than the statistics show.

If, we have also asked, crime is as prevalent as the impression left by community newspapers, why are they not clamouring for the police to do something about it? If we should be so afraid, why do the police do something about crime?

Could it be that over-reliance on police press releases and courthouse stories is creating a false impression of what is actually happening in our cities? Could it be that, despite the very real need for a modern, well-trained and effective police force in communities like Abbotsford, the public is ill-served by a steady diet of stories about petty crime?

**We’ve added a link at the bottom left of the homepage to the page of APD press releases on their website for those who want to keep track of what they say they are doing.

Which community do you live in?

Which one would you move to?

*The snapshots below were taken at approx. 15:30 Monday, August 18, 2014. Both websites have likely changed since then.

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