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NYPD to Team Up With Community Groups To Combat Graffiti

A wall located on 43rd Street in Sunnyside that is often vandalized (Queens Post: Sept. 2020)

March 3, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

The NYPD announced a new initiative Wednesday that will see the police team up with local communities to combat graffiti across the city.

The initiative, called the “Graffiti Clean-Up” campaign, will see the NYPD use information submitted by the public to identify graffiti hotspots – and then help community volunteers clean it up. The campaign is expected to kick-off as soon as the weather improves, the NYPD said.

The police say they want to erase the blight of graffiti. They say it is costly for property owners and also diminishes people’s perception of a neighborhood. In addition, it can often be related to drug and gang violence.

“The perils of this costly and often obscene vandalism that can mar a neighborhood, create the perception of disorder and lead to further quality of life and crime problems,” NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press briefing.

“Together, our prompt clean-ups will reclaim our public spaces, deter the reoccurrence of damaging graffiti and build pride in common living spaces.”

The announcement comes after the NYPD said it received more than 6,000 complaints last year about graffiti. The city had typically allocated $3 million a year to a graffiti clean-up program called Graffiti-Free NYC but the program was suspended in March 2020 due to budget cuts.

Under the NYPD’s new initiative, police are calling on the public to identify areas that need cleaning. Residents are being asked to speak to cops directly on the street or make suggestions via a new email address that has been set up by the NYPD that is dedicated to tackling graffiti.

The email address, Graffiti@nypd.org, will be monitored by a dedicated officer from the Chief of Department’s office and residents are also being encouraged to submit photos of areas targeted by graffiti.

The information will then be distributed to local police precincts, police service areas and transit districts throughout the five boroughs. Police commanders will then collaborate with community leaders to form teams of volunteers and police crews to clean up the graffiti.

The NYPD will prioritize its cleanup efforts when it comes to hate crimes. Photo: Assembly Member Dan Rosenthal looks at a fence in Forest Hills targeted by anti-Semitic vandals in December (Image provided by Rosenthal)

Members of the Law Enforcement Explorers Program, auxiliary police officers and cadets will assist the NYPD during clean-up operations. The non-profit group Police Athletic League will also take part. All volunteers will also receive a T-shirt from the Chief of Community Affairs.

Hate graffiti – or graffiti that includes offensive slogans or symbols – will be prioritized for clean-up, the NYPD said. Gang-related graffiti tags to mark a territory or warning signs made to rivals will be investigated by police.

The NYPD said that it will also coordinate with the public to come up with preventative ideas that will deter future acts of graffiti.

The measures would include increasing the lighting of an area, installing motion-sensor lights or sprinklers to discourage vandals.

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