The video cameras would be donated as an in-kind contribution from a local business or corporation. If there are no video cameras available through donation, a fundraiser must be held to raise the money to buy the cameras.
Trained technicians -- advanced students from a nearby university -- would put the technology together; they would receive credits toward their degrees though the building of and maintenance of this system of surveillance. When taggers are recorded doing their graffiti on video cameras, the police department then steps in and makes the arrests. Signs are put up all around the school and other places where taggers make their marks that offer $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals painting graffiti on buildings. Right next to every sign that offers the reward is another sign that reports the new ordinance enacted by the city council or county supervisors: first-time arrestees receive one year in county jail, or for those underage, one year of juvenile justice incarceration. Second time for those already arrested means up to 2 years in county jail or juvenile justice facilities.
A Second Potential Solution
This solution involves several components. As they do in Suffolk County, New York State, the community where the graffiti is taking place must ban the sale of aerosol cans of paint to those under the age of 21 (actually Suffolk County's ordinance bans paint sales to those under 18 but to beef it up it should be under 21). Further, if the offender is under 18, his or her parents will be responsible to pay for the clean up of the graffiti. The solution that was found for graffiti in Riverside, California is a creative and potentially effective one. The "Graffiti Abatement Tool" is an effective tool in Riverside; before public works employees remove graffiti, they take a photo with a Ricoh GPS camera that has a "customized digital form on the camera," according to Matt Keeling in Riverside. The data about the graffiti and the image of the graffiti is uploaded to a server "that automatically adds data to a spatial layer in ArcSDE" (Keeling, 2009). Since taggers sign their artwork with "distinctive monikers" the police department can "perform GIS analyses to find trends in the tagging and identify problem areas." This technology allows police to track down the taggers and also to locate areas of the community where the tagging is more frequent and predictable. If the tagger is a minor, the city attorney can sue the parents or legal guardians for all the costs associated with cleanup, Keeling writes.
Videotape surveillance /
This could unite the community and keep taggers under close watch
The cost of the cameras might be prohibitive unless a company agrees to donate
Putting signs up notifying taggers (1st time) will serve 1 year in jail
Some juveniles will shy away from tagging schools if they face significant jail time
Other taggers always believe they won't get caught and their mischief if worth the risk
Banning sales of spray paint to people under the age of 21
At the very least this will force taggers to go outside of town for their paint
Like finding someone to get them beer, some minors will always locate paint
The "Graffiti Abatement Tool"
This is a sophisticated and high tech system that is working in California
Not every police department has the resources or the sophistication for this device
Teaching people to make citizens' arrests when the find taggers in the act of graffiti
More powerful people won't have much trouble subduing a young tagger
Most people will shy away from making a citizens arrest due to unfamiliarity and potential backfires
I am recommending the videotape surveillance / neighborhood watch program, along with signs that warn taggers that they are being watched, that they can count on spending a year in jail or in juvenile justice lockdown, and they will have a hefty fine to pay. There are schools that are hit constantly by student taggers, and this may work best for those kinds of schools. One day the custodian finds graffiti all over the back of the gymnasium; he cleans it (costing the school money for his time) and the next day, the taggers have just done the same thing over again -- and what has been gained in the process? But by soliciting good surveillance equipment from local companies (with the promise that their gift will be publicized so all in the community know they have been generous), or having very public fundraisers, the equipment can be bought and a central site for feeding in all the video can be arranged.
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (2009). Hate Crimes Laws. Retrieved April 9, 2011, from http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/federal.asp.
Dedel, Kelly. (2005). School Vandalism and Break-Ins / Guide No. 35. Center for Problem-
Oriented Policing. Retrieved April 9, 2011, from http://www.popcenter.org/problems/vandalism/print.
Grossack, David C. (1994). Citizens' Arrest. Constitutional Business. Retrieved April 9,
2011, from http://www.constitution.org/grossack/arrest.htm.