Eastside Stories: Diary of a Vancouver Beat Cop – A (very) thin blue line
December 21, 2011
Testimonial #8
December 28, 2011
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Dear Toby and team,

I wanted to send a note expressing my thanks for the Tears for April production. As you may know, I was formerly at the VPD in Planning and Research for several years, but in 2010 moved down to Seattle to teach at Seattle University for the year. One of my teaching assignments was Criminal Law, in which we explored the laws surrounding ‘victimless’ crimes, with a specific focus on drug possession and addiction. As I’m sure you know, the US laws concerning drug possession have resulted in a significant increase in the number of individuals sentenced to prison, putting strain on the criminal justice system in numerous ways. My intention with showing this film was to bring the discussion back from examining the laws in place, to considering the human side of addiction and the need for more problem-oriented responses.

My undergraduate students in the Criminal Law class were asked to put together a ‘reflection statement’ following their viewing of the film. I thought it would be appropriate to share just a few of their comments with you. I should note as well that I also showed this video in my graduate class on Law and Social Control, and although I did not assign a written commentary from them, I can tell you that it elicited surprise, compassion, and a greater desire to critically examine the legal status quo. I also note that this video is currently being shown by one of my colleagues in the Psychology department, for his class on the neurobiology of addiction. He previously viewed the film in my class, and considered it a valuable teaching aid for his class to bring the focus back to the people involved. Our library now carries both the Tears for April, and Through a Blue Lens films.

Below are just a few of the comments about the film (I have removed the students’ names to protect their privacy):

  • “Tears for April” really opened my eyes to the issues of drug addictions that millions of people are dealing with in the United States. I am now a firm believer that a drug addiction is a physiological dependence and it no longer becomes a choice for the person who is addicted. The extreme addictions in Vancouver, Canada plagued the streets with homelessness and crime, which was graphically displayed in the video… As a society, we must realize the implications of a video such as this and the effects that drug addiction has on our society. I believe that more funding should be put towards rehabilitation and drug/alcohol treatment for offenders and non-offenders.
  • The film Tears for April was an emotional roller coaster. On one spectrum it was heartbreaking to see people like April struggle with trying to stay sober. On the other spectrum it was uplifting to see Randy’s transformation from a habitual drug user to a sober and healthy person… I believe films like Tears for April shows society a different side of drug addicts and their struggle. It is easier for people to view drug addicts not as fellow human beings, but as lazy and worthless people who deserve whatever fate happens to them because they “chose” their fate. However, Tears for April shows society these people are humans too and need help.
  • “Tears for April” really opened my eyes into the world of drug addiction. Since then, I have discovered I feel more sympathy for the homeless people I pass by on the streets. Although I understand they made the choice to take the drug the first time, the film has helped me become less concerned with what they might do to me and more concerned with how they might be able to recover and get their lives back on track.
  • The film Tears for April illuminates the cycle of drug abuse exceptionally well. It is clear that the key to stopping drug abuse, and all the crime and misery that accompanies such activities, is early education and prevention programs. How precisely those are to be implemented remains contested. If we’ve learned anything from the DARE program it’s that simply demonizing illicit activities makes them attractive to youth. Therefore the focus should perhaps be shifted from specific substance education to post-use consequences, as was the case in the Odd Squad presentations. Perhaps the most powerful tool in their arsenal were addicts themselves, real life illustrations that communicate the dangers of substance abuse on a more accessible level.
  • Tears for April was a very interesting look into drug addiction and crime. Although it took place in Vancouver, I feel like it captured the real struggles that occur on the streets of Seattle, or pretty much anywhere.
  • Documentaries like Tears for April should be more mainstream, getting the word out can hopefully lead to debate and change.

I am, as always, extremely proud to have been part of such a progressive police department as the VPD, and educational productions such as those from the Odd Squad exemplify this. Through these videos, I feel there is a significant opportunity to expand awareness, both at home and abroad. I want to thank you and all those involved for all the great work on this documentary, and I sincerely hope there will be more productions from the Odd Squad in the future.
From Seattle University, Criminal Justice Dept.

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