The New York City Police Department today is announcing a new collaborative effort to erase the blight of unsanctioned often destructive graffiti in shared public spaces across our city.
Our anti-graffiti efforts will rely on the built up relationships between the police and the public in two important ways. First, officers from all 77 precincts, and in our transit and housing units, will rely on information from residents about locations that need a cleanup. Second, officers and community-member volunteers will stand side-by-side to get the job done.
Working together, our “Graffiti Clean-Up” campaign will kick off as the weather improves and will continue in response to what we anticipate will be an increasing supply of tips streaming in from the public.
Besides speaking with officers, residents can use new digital tools to send in photos and ideas about which locations need work. The NYPD has established a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org – that will be monitored around the clock by a dedicated police officer in the Chief of Department’s office and will allow people to send photos of graffiti and sites needing attention.
“City residents, as well as our men and women officers, know well 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,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “At the same time, our residents and their police know the power of collaboration to rejuvenate our city spaces and improve life for those who live, work and travel throughout our neighborhoods. Together, our prompt cleanups will reclaim our public spaces, deter the reoccurrence of damaging graffiti and build pride in common living spaces.”
Graffiti comes in many forms. Our department received more than 6,000 complaints in calendar 2020 about property – public and private – damaged by the application of paint or etched into with drill bits, metal objects, sandpaper and other tools.
Graffiti causes substantial financial costs to homeowners and merchants and public institutions and facilities. Graffiti is often related to drug and gang violence. Those caught defacing property without express permission will be arrested.
The NYPD’s new strategy builds upon the deeper human links officers have created with residents they serve through our Neighborhood Policing philosophy. It also establishes new technological links through the digital tools that increasingly connect us.
In fielding the emailed tips from the public, our graffiti coordinating officer will distribute them to the precincts, Police Service Areas and Transit Districts throughout New York City, where commanders will oversee clean-up and education efforts in close collaboration with community partners. Preventative ideas will also be shared, such as increasing the overall lighting of an area or installing motion-sensor lights or sprinklers to discourage vandals – particularly in elevated or out-of-reach spaces.
The tips the NYPD receives will all be assessed and ranked by precinct personnel and community leaders. Hate graffiti – or graffiti that includes offensive slogans or symbols – will be prioritized for cleanup. Graffiti considered to be made by gangs or crews, to mark territory or send warnings to rivals, will also be examined closely and addressed. Typical “street graffiti,” consisting of so-called “tags” or “pieces,” and typically applied quickly, will also be analyzed.
Once the locations are chosen, plans will be made to form Clean-Up Crews. Those crews will consist of community volunteers as well as members of the Law Enforcement Explorers Program and our auxiliary police officers and cadets as well as the Police Athletic League, Inc.
All volunteers will also get a t-shirt, from the Chief of Community Affairs.