An attack on graffiti

New program designed to cover it immediately
There is fantastic news on the anti-graffiti front, but it’s
going to take all of us to make it work.
First there’s a new number to call to report graffiti
– one with a live person that answers 24 hours a day. Keep
636-4050 written by your telephone. It rings to juvenile hall,
where what seems to be an answer to the graffiti problem was worked
out last Friday.
New program designed to cover it immediately

There is fantastic news on the anti-graffiti front, but it’s going to take all of us to make it work.

First there’s a new number to call to report graffiti – one with a live person that answers 24 hours a day. Keep 636-4050 written by your telephone. It rings to juvenile hall, where what seems to be an answer to the graffiti problem was worked out last Friday.

After two weeks of publicity, Probation Director Deborah Botts, juvenile hall Superintendent Tim Pierleoni and police Captain Richard Vasquez and I brainstormed ideas for both eradicating new graffiti the day it’s discovered and painting over the existing vandalism on weekends. The ambitious goal is to cover every last bit of it – eventually.

But the most important graffiti to remove is the fresh stuff. If vandals don’t get the satisfaction of seeing it, they might lose interest in spraying it.

Pierleoni will use juvenile offenders to form paint crews to cover the spray paint the day it’s reported. They’ll be arriving with a city Public Works truck containing brushes and whatever else they need to get the job done.

To get rid of the long-term eyesores, Vasquez and Pierleoni will call on juveniles ordered by the courts to perform community service to fan across the town on weekends to cover the blights in alleyways, on signs, on fences – wherever you tell them it is.

Meanwhile Botts will ensure that the painting comes with life lessons about respect for property and pride in community, which she hopes will make them ponder the ramifications and implications of vandalizing other peoples’ property.

It’s a start, and it will take all of us to make this work.

We must report graffiti when it happens, since one blast of spray paint quickly attracts others (not to mention there’s an un-enforced city ordinance calling for punishment if property owners don’t cover it within 72 hours). The crews will hit the town when their juvenile hall school day ends at 3 p.m. The idea is to cover new tags so quickly, the acts of vandalism become meaningless and the punks become frustrated and stop.

After covering the new vandalism, the crews will move on to the older stuff.

The crews will have their own paint or primer and will accept donations – so check your garages; it could be a good way to get rid of cans you’ll never use.

Pierleoni hopes to quickly get to the point where if the tagging is on private property, the owner can leave the matching color out for the juvenile hall crews to use. Suburban residents and businesses will have to sign waivers that Pierleoni’s crews will provide; downtown businesses already are covered by waivers releasing the agencies of liability if, say, the cover-up paint isn’t an exact match.

The good news is, these folks recognized the problem and took action. It will take all of us to help. Report vandalism – and vandals – to the police, call 636-4050 so that crews can paint over it, and let them know where problem areas exist so that they can work on a medium-term solution to eradicate it.

As I said last week, graffiti adds to the cost of doing business in town. It cheapens our community and makes it look as if the thugs are in charge.

These folks have come up with a plan that looks like it can help. It will take all of our eyes to help them. So let’s do it.

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