Police: Fast action can curb new graffiti | PostIndependent.com

Police: Fast action can curb new graffiti

Following an outbreak of graffiti in June, Glenwood Springs police are encouraging property owners to clean up quickly to help discourage copycats.

Police and city officials say they prefer educating the public rather than threatening to issue citations if people fail to deal with the graffiti.

Police chief Terry Wilson said most property owners cooperate in covering up or removing graffiti in a timely manner, to help fend off further problems.

“Once they understand the dynamics of it, typically they respond really well,” he said.

He said police talked to a couple of property owners who had failed to clean up graffiti after a couple of days because they were busy with other things.

“As soon as we brought it to their attention ” bang, next day, problem solved. It was removed and covered,” he said.

The city was hit with a run of graffiti around the week of Strawberry Days. Vandals struck downtown and in the Hotel Colorado area in north Glenwood Springs.

The vandalism prompted discussions among some city residents and on City Council about whether the city should simply rely on education, or needs to invoke its nuisance ordinance or pass a new ordinance to ensure graffiti is addressed quickly.

Both Wilson and city manager Jeff Hecksel favor education over enforcement when it comes to cleaning up graffiti.

“We typically ask people nicely to get that stuff off,” Hecksel said.

Wilson said the city also considered the graffiti question after an outbreak a few years ago and came to the same conclusion.

“I think that we can play a role in it by getting out when people are vandalized like this and letting them know what our experiences on it are,” he said.

A quick response by victims discourages taggers from tagging, Wilson said.

“They don’t get to enjoy their wonderful artwork,” he said.

Aesthetically, it’s also preferable to get rid of graffiti right away, he added.

Hecksel said city crews also act immediately when graffiti vandals strike city property.

Wilson said graffiti has continued to hit the city this summer, but not as intensely as during Strawberry Days.

City officials say gangs haven’t been responsible for this summer’s graffiti.

“People jump to the conclusion that it was gang-related and we’ve got a gang problem, and that’s not the case,” Hecksel said.

Three police detectives spent several hours each night over Strawberry Days looking for graffiti vandals but didn’t catch anyone in the act.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516


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