This is a cross-post from the moderator of the Urban Planet Rhode Island discussion group, who had the Graffiti Taskforce present at their Greater City: Providence meeting this week. Apparently community watches are being organized (10 around the city to start) to address graffiti.
The Graffiti Taskforce started last May and had a very successful summer and fall as they ramped up and increased public awareness. They are getting ready to announce several $500 rewards for information that lead to the apprehension of an offender.
There will also be penalties put in place for private property owners who don’t clean graffiti within 10 days of being notified by the city. however, as bad as that sounds, the city will offer their resources to help in the clean up during those 10 days. after those 10 days, the city will do it and the owner will be responsible for the cost of removal.
Their online form was down and suggested people call 1-800-TAGGERS until it gets fixed.
Due to their equipment not being able to work in temps below freezing, they’ve lost some ground over the winter, especially in notorious hot spots such as Waterplace. The question was asked about investing in equipment that can work during the winter months. The equipment they have is the result of one of the only affordable bids they received on purchasing equipment. They do want to get equipment that can work during the winter.
In addition to the Taskforce, the Parks Department has their own graffiti removal program and the Downtown Improvement District has a graffiti removal program Downtown.
The plan for the spring and the summer is to catch up on the complaints that have piled up during the winter. Also, they will be launching 10 community watch programs. Community leaders will watch for and report graffiti and clean up days will be organized with those groups.
The Providence Police have been able to head off several gang related crimes due to their ability to read the messages left through tagging between gang members.
The focus right now is on public property, the Taskforce does not need to obtain permission to clean public property and they have had a lot of problems with explicit graffiti on/near schools (some of my photos from Waterplace last year will attest to that). As reports come in, notices will be issued to private property owners that they have 10 days to clean the graffiti on their property or the city will do it (and charge them) for them. I neglected to ask if there were any other fees or fines for failure to comply or what the fee was to have the city remove the graffiti.
Many (most?) of the offenders caught thus far are minors. Cases involving minors are handled through the Family Court. The city wants the punishment to be community service including graffiti removal, but they need to work with the court to get them to issue that as a sentence. In some cases offenders have priors which mean they will be facing jail time.