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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
How to Stop Graffiti

How to Stop Graffiti

The crime of graffiti is an ever-growing problem in every major city in the United States. You can easily spot this public eye-sore lining the once blank walls of businesses, in our alley-ways, on trash cans, and even mailboxes. More often than not, the most common form of graffiti is placed in areas meant to designate a specific gang’s territory, acting both as a sort of physical marker and as a warning to other neighboring gangs to stay out. This type of graffiti is most often found in the more metropolitan areas, or areas of a city that’s been prey to urban decay.

Another common form of graffiti is that of a “street artist”. These so-called artist’s don’t have any gang affiliation and often spray-paint large murals depicting some sort of ethnic or urban scene in public areas or on private property. While many of these “street artists” can display some artistic credibility, their choice of canvas is just as illegal as those of gang graffiti artists.

Of the many problems that the crime of graffiti can cause, the cost and resources of graffiti abatement can quickly add up. In 2014, the city of Los Angeles, California paid $7 million to clean up roughly 32.4 million square feet of graffiti-adorned public areas. This money had to be culled from other budgets that may have benefitted other public programs run by the city. Once these instances of graffiti are removed, they quickly reappear moments later.

Because recurrences of graffiti happen so often, the problem is met best with a means of quick abatement and followed by measures designed to prevent its repetitive qualities. While the crime of graffiti happens most often at night and when the possibility of being seen is low, ideally-placed anti-graffiti cameras are an excellent substitute when civilian or security personnel oversight can’t be accomplished or afforded. In addition to these graffiti cameras, utilizing social media sites, such as Facebook, to help identify suspects and educate the public on the consequences of graffiti are steps in the right direction to help stifle the occurrence and recurrence of the crime of graffiti.

Initials carved in tree

Vandalism in Parks

Violence is not a term restricted to an unjust act against humans. Parks and other public beauty can be subject to cruel, undeserved vandalism, thus making them victims of “cultural violence” (National Parks Service-https://www.nps.gov/articles/vandalism-hurts.htm).

A form of defacing that natural parks often experience is graffiti. Some call it a form of art, but park officials find the offense to be very expensive to remove and challenging to restore the parks back to its natural beauty, “graffiti is vandalism, and is extremely difficult to remove. Repair of vandalized sites, if possible, is costly and time consuming, and often cannot restore the site to its former condition” (National Parks Service-https://www.nps.gov/articles/vandalism-hurts.htm). Even more so, Fox News recently reported from Zion National Parks that rocks and other natural features will not recover fully from vandalism such as spray paint, regardless of how much it is cleaned (Fox News, Salt Lake City- https://fox13now.com/2018/06/17/zion-national-park-reminds-visitors-vandalism-is-not-art/). They remind people that “vandalism is not art.”

Defacing, damaging or painting any part of public parks is a form of vandalism and is illegal. Parks are for the appreciation of nature and the enjoyment of others. When parks are vandalized, it harms the earth and it ruins the experience of visitors. Care for the earth and protect your parks.

Playground

Stop Park Vandalism

It is hard to believe that in this generation with all the education on protecting the environment and recycling that the graffiti problem and leaving trash at public parks even exists.  According to the Saint George News, Hurricane, jumping rocks located in Sand Hollow State Park, had to be closed for clean up due to accumulated trash and graffiti.  Sand Hollow State Park is a beautiful park with large rock and sandstone formations that are part of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.  The Sandstone formations are beautiful natural art pieces that sit on the water’s edge. The assistant park manager, Darren Tucker, indicated the area is being “marred by littering, graffiti, things being thrown into the water even.”   It is hard to believe this happened. Who would mar this beautiful area?

And yet,  today more and more of our National Parks are getting tagged and marred. If our society is to leave a better world for the next generation, we need to do more than clean up after the fact.  Cleaning the graffiti introduces chemicals to the area which affects the air quality and the water, due to run off.  The chemicals could also enter and contaminate the in-ground water.  As the left behind trash sits in the sun, chemicals are released.  Our society needs to do better.

As a society what can we do? The Los Angeles Police Department has listed several ways an individual can help their community. Several to note are education, clean up, reporting and protecting. As most offenders are young, the LAPD encourages the public to volunteer in areas that educate the young that vandalism, which includes graffiti and illegal trash dumping, is a crime.  Volunteering also encourages the young to use their time for valuable moments rather than doing something that is hurtful to the community.  It is important we make our parks a priority.  What are some ways you can help stop graffiti and vandalism in our parks?