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Graffiti Prevention

Graffiti Prevention

It is no secret that most large cities are a hot-spot for graffiti.  In addition to gangs using graffiti to “mark” their territory, there is also a host of “artists” who belong to an underground “street art” scene.  What these gangs and so-called “artists” don’t seem to take into consideration, however, is the cost and resources needed to clean up their graffiti.

For instance, In 2014, Los Angeles city workers cleaned up 32.4 million square feet of graffiti, or the equivalent square footage of 562 football fields.  Due to the vast and large nature of the City of Los Angeles, this comes as no surprise.  At this rate, Los Angeles City spends roughly $7 million per year of city money to clean up graffiti– money which would be better spent on other programs that benefit the citizens.

Some cities pay graffiti abatement crews to clean up the mess daily. Although necessary, these crews are often working in vain, as the freshly cleaned-up graffiti seems to return as quickly as it’s scrubbed off or painted over, functioning as a sort of budget-money-black-hole, fueled by more than 100,000 civilian complaints of graffiti sightings.

One worthy idea devised by some cities, is to “punish” caught and convicted taggers by making them clean up their own mess and repaint the structures as a form of rehabilitation.  However, this is only working, if the graffiti vandals are caught and convicted.  What about the countless taggers that whiz by under the radar, committing graffiti on a daily basis, uncaught and therefore undisciplined?  This triggers the question, what are cities doing regarding graffiti prevention?  

It is clear, it is time for the cities to approach the problem of graffiti with a new set of eyes, due to the current situation behaving not unlike a recurring nightmare with no end in sight. The repetitive nature of current means of dealing with graffiti is like a game of cat and mouse, handled on a day-to-day and case-by-case basis.  Without a preventative plan of action and a graffiti camera, this game, sadly, is certain to continue.

Deter Graffiti in the Community

Deter Graffiti in the Community

Graffiti vandalism can happen anywhere. The unsightly crime of graffiti can have serious negative effects on the community where the act takes place. When graffiti is not quickly abated, it often sends the message that “no one cares” about the community it has defaced. This type of “careless” attitude lends itself to the public’s perception of an unsafe environment, causing concern for public safety. When a community feels their environment is not safe, these negative emotions can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as further acts of crime and violence.

When residents of a community afflicted by graffiti perceive an increase of criminal activity, it can foster the assumption that crime is on the rise. This assumption contributes to feeling less secure and fearful, with the suggested result of community members avoiding street usage and less contact with one another. Less personal contact reduces community bonds and encourages individual isolation amongst members, resulting in the community being more vulnerable to crime.

Many individuals who report living in neighborhoods with vandalism and graffiti, retain high levels of mistrust, are suspicious of others, and have fear of being victimized. In this way, graffiti can have a negative impact on a community’s perception of safety and public amenity.

The financial costs associated with acts of graffiti are astonishing. Many municipalities throughout the United States employ a team of graffiti abatement personnel, with larger cities spending upward of tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to clean publicly defaced property. Private property owners who have experienced their property being vandalized by this criminal act are forced to cover the cost of graffiti abatement from their property. Failure to do so within a specified amount of time results in a mandatory, non-compliance fine. Residents of a community that have been victimized by graffiti sometimes harbor resentment toward local law enforcement and city officials for not acknowledging the residents as being the victim of the crime.

When the members of a community are so emotionally distressed by criminal acts such as graffiti, the lasting implications can be felt for years after the crime has taken place.  As a city official, take the initiative to deter crimes such as graffiti with a graffiti camera and help the citizens gain confidence in their community.

Graffiti Removal

Is Graffiti Removal a “Band-Aid” Than a Solution?

Cities and parks across the country practice the “rapid removal” method to address their graffiti issues. It is definitely important to quickly remove graffiti as soon as it happens in order to maintain control over the issue and prevent more graffiti from taking place. But is this battle between the taggers and the city’s graffiti removal efforts simply a “band-aid” that is covering up the issue instead of really addressing the problem to stop graffiti?

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing site on “Response to the Problem of Graffiti”  emphasizes the importance of removing graffiti rapidly as the most promising responses to tackle graffiti. This sends a message to the tagger that their “artwork” won’t last long, and many times “help on many arrests by reporting kids watching the clean-up,” since surprisingly these kids are often times the taggers!

But even with this recommended approach, the POP guide indicates that “many of the methods are time consuming and can be quite expensive.” These efforts may help to revive the park, but it’s not guaranteed that these issues won’t come back. Taking a proactive prevention approach may seem like a challenge at first, but in the long run it can cause less headaches to really stop the problem from coming back.