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How to Solve the Graffiti Problem

How to Solve the Graffiti Problem

Graffiti is a community problem affecting people from all walks of life.   Nuisance crimes are a problem for all cities varying in the crimes and magnitude.  Unfortunately, graffiti causes residential and business property values to be less, invites more crime, and increases urban decay.  So, what is a community to do?

The United States Department of Justice printed a pdf defining Community Policing.  In the pdf, problem solving is:

  • Scanning: Identifying and prioritizing problems
  • Analysis: Researching what is known about the problem
  • Response: Developing solutions to bring about lasting reductions in the number and extent of problems
  • Assessment: Evaluating the success of the responses
  • Using the crime triangle to focus on immediate conditions (victim/offender/location)

Once the community has identified the area or “hot spot” of graffiti, a solution to stop or deter the graffiti is the next step.  Perpetrators are dangerous so this can be tricky.  How can the community get involved but not be put at risk to gang members or violent individuals?  The best way to approach this problem is to report the area to the neighborhood enforcement agency.  Community policing requires a partnership for example between the community, public works and the police. Some communities even have volunteers for this type of crime and the support of non-profit organizations or private business.  The key is the partnership.  The law enforcement agencies are much more effective in a city where they have the help and partnership from the community.

Preventative measures should include:

  • Bright lights, which shine in the shadows
  • Legislation with high penalties
  • Community service for perpetrators
  • Using social media to ask the community for help
  • Using social media to spread the word and advertise the penalties
  • Using anti-graffiti cameras to stop and deter
Tagger

Graffiti Prevention Friend or Foe?

Graffiti is sprayed at millions of locations every day. Graffiti comes out in different ways such as: gang graffiti, tagger graffiti, conventional graffiti, and ideological graffiti. Graffiti usually happens in urban environments on public and private property. In many cases, graffiti is seen as acceptable urban art, and not a problem. However, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (POP Center) disagrees and says that graffiti is indeed a problem, and believes there needs to be methods on how to stop graffiti vandalism.  The reason graffiti prevention is not important for some is because the problem is not important enough.

Some people do not report graffiti or see a need to prevent it because they do not see it as “real crime” problem, or they believe the police know how to stop graffiti vandalism. The media has elevated and promoted graffiti as an “acceptable form of urban street art”. Famous graffiti artists like Banksy have developed huge recognition, and people love the ideological images he produces. Graffiti is not seen as a problem because they are not aware of the problem it produces.

A single or few incidents of graffiti may not seem as problems, but graffiti accumulates. An area that was sprayed with graffiti seems to attract more graffiti. The motives of the graffiti offenders vary, but all offenders do graffiti so others can see their message or art. Because graffiti offenders want recognition, graffiti spreads to more than one area like a virus or disease.

Graffiti is usually targeted on public property.  The national annual cost for monitoring, detecting, removing, and repairing graffiti damage is estimated to be as high as 15 to 18 billion dollars. A lot of the public sees graffiti as the government not doing its job to enforce laws and protect property. The POP center says that graffiti contributes to loss of ridership on public transit systems, and reduced sales because of decline in property value. Graffiti has a perception that is related to gang activity. In addition, graffiti in itself is not a problem in a vacuum, but other crimes and disorders are related to graffiti.

Graffiti for some may be an art, but for many others graffiti is a problem that negatively affects many neighborhoods and people.  Graffiti may be applauded, but the negative aspects of graffiti out way the good. The public should be aware of these so police and communities can have more of an impact in stopping graffiti vandalism. Graffiti prevention is much needed nationally and is a friend for all.