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Grim ads unlikely to ease gang violence: academic

Shock advertising is a sign of Abbotsford's desperate struggle with gang violence, according to a Simon Fraser University criminologist.

Abbotsford police released the first poster in their "Operation Tarnish" campaign yesterday, which features a picture of a coffin in a hearse and a stern warning to teens engaging in gang activity.

"You can't pimp this ride," the poster proclaims.

Spokesperson Const. Ian MacDonald said the ads, coupled with presentations at schools, are meant to drive home the realities of gang lifestyles for teens who don't pay attention to the news.

But SFU criminologist Robert Gordon says the stunt is unlikely to have much of an effect.

"[The Fraser Valley] obviously has a problem with gang recruitment and violence and I think they're getting a bit desperate about it," Gordon told 24 hours. "They haven't done anything about it for a while and it has, pardon the expression, exploded in their faces."

Gordon believes the only impact the posters will have is on youth who have already decided not to engage in criminal activity.

But MacDonald says the department doesn't mind the criticism.

"If it's on the table and we can try it, we will," he said. "We want to get people talking about it. It doesn't have to be positive, as long as they're talking. That's where the battle will be won."

Matt Kieltyka reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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