Hard-line program considered to slow graffiti | SierraSun.com

Hard-line program considered to slow graffiti

After a recent increase in graffiti, local officials are looking to crack down on vandalism.

Representatives of the Town of Truckee, Nevada County, the Truckee Police Department, special districts and concerned citizens met Wednesday to discuss a hard-line program to prevent graffiti in town.

“There was a time in the not-too-distant past that you didn’t see any graffiti at all,” said Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens, who called the meeting. “We’ve had a Good Samaritan doing something about it but the wave is just getting too big.”

The Good Samaritan, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution for all the graffiti he has removed, said he has been painting over graffiti for 10 years, but has seen a spike in the last two years.

He said he has painted over or removed more than 100 incidents of graffiti in the past year, which has become too much for him to undertake alone.

Glenshire Elementary School was vandalized Jan. 27 with more than $400-worth of damage, which constitutes a felony charge, said Dennis Williams, superintendent for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

“It was the largest amount I’ve seen since I’ve been here almost four years,” Williams said.

Mark Thomas, water superintendent for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, said water tanks are a common target for graffiti.

“With the paint, renting a lift, and man-hours, we probably spent $7,000 this year for graffiti,” Thomas said.

Steve Randall, Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District general manager, said the skate park, a place traditionally covered in graffiti in other communities, has stayed relatively clean.

“We said ‘If that happens we are closing it down.’ Kids understand consequences,” Randall said.

Owens discussed making consequences for graffiti stronger.

“I’d like to explore a fine system where the money goes to painting over graffiti and a tipster program to catch taggers,” Owens said. “The message we need to send is this is not OK in Truckee.”

The tipster program would reward people for reporting vandals, Owens said.

Lt. Harwood Mitchell said the tipster program would be beneficial, and he would like to involve the probation program in both graffiti clean-up and reporting graffiti.

“Right now the town defaults to state law based on a plus-or-minus-$400 ” under $400 in damage is a misdemeanor, and over is a felony,” Mitchell said.

Williams suggested the police and local agencies keep a database of graffiti ” that way matching styles could be attributed to one person when charging the individual with an offense.

Creating positive enforcement, by creating pride in the community, can also be effective, Williams said.

“When [North Tahoe High] was hit the students were appalled, they were there cleaning it up before custodial staff could get there,” Williams said.

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