Following on from my blog post last week when I flew into a terrifying rage after members of a very naive US police department declared to the entire world that having an ostomy or colostomy was pretty much a ‘fate worse than death’, and that teenaged boys who wore bags (for any reason at all) would never get girlfriends as the bag made then untouchable and disgusting. (Click here for previous post), Cincinnati Police have rightly apologised for their ill-thought-out campaign.
The campaign sparked outrage amongst the ostomy community. Many felt betrayed and let down. I know I did. While the idea behind the campaign was good (to try to protect youngsters from gun crime) it painted the very idea of having an ostomy bag as a thing of revulsion, something that made the wearer an outcast and an unattractive person in the eyes of society. Many people felt the same way that I did, that this campaign was re-enforcing young people’s prejudices and fears about life with an ostomy bag…and that young boys already found it hard enough to accept living with a bag without their city’s police telling their community that their life saving operation now made them the least dateable teenager in America.
I want to say thank you to everyone who wrote in to this police department and made them aware of the upset they had caused. I accept, and I hope others do to, that they were blind to the fact that they would be causing so much offence and pain among a community of people who, quite frankly, have already been through enough pain and worry in their lives.
This apology marks a victory for all of us, whether you have a bag or are facing possible surgery in the future. Through reactions to this campaign and the media coverage that surrounded it we have shown the world that having an ostomy is not ‘a fate worse than death’, it is something that changes your life for the better. The word ostomy shouldn’t be associated with revulsion, disgust or fear, but with hope, happiness and most of all FREEDOM.
Thank you to the Police Chief for issuing this very public apology and for realising his force’s mistake. We all understood the idea behind the campaign and the very noble thing they were trying to achieve. What still frightens me is that this made it to the press at all. That this sort of campaign was ever signed off, having made it past dozens if not hundreds of different departments before being handed to the media is nothing short of concerning.
Thank you for the apology CPD, but I fear that the damage may have already been done.
To the Ostomy Community:
Like many American cities, Cincinnati has seen an increase in the number of juveniles involved in violent crime. Many of these juveniles become victims and suffer traumatic injuries as a result. In developing a strategy we contacted a local hospital trauma center which has a presentation that illustrates some life changing consequences of gun violence. Unfortunately, one of the examples used was of a gunshot victim who was now required to utilize a colostomy bag; and the news chose to highlight a poorly chosen comment by a Police Lieutenant when airing the story. To use the example of an ostomy bag in this way was a mistake. Although there was no ill will intended, the results were hurtful to some in the ostomy community and this will not be repeated.
I realize the way the news story was presented has offended many in the ostomy community, and for this I am truly sorry. As a result of the numerous contacts I received, I have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again. I have spoken to the Lieutenant involved in the story and his commander. Both are extremely troubled that such a well-meaning attempt to reduce the number of juveniles involved in gun violence offended so many. I addressed this with my command staff and Public Information Office to ensure we are all educated on the issue and to prevent any future occurrences. I also contacted Mr. Jeff Brogan, General Manager of WCPO regarding this issue.
I have attempted to individually answer emails, but I wanted to send a clearer message to everyone in the ostomy community. I am very sorry this happened and will work to ensure it does not happen in the future. I assure you this was a mistake on the part of well-meaning individuals and not a deliberate attempt to offend anyone.
I hope you will accept this apology on behalf of the Cincinnati Police Department.
Paul H. Humphries
Interim Police Chief
Cincinnati Police Department