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A new program in Springfield lends a hand to those who are victims of tagging. The Community Partnership of the Ozarks program offers free help cleaning up after someone’s property is damaged by graffiti. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.
We’ve probably all noticed graffiti in and around Springfield—on buildings, on fences and on other smooth surfaces. Sergeant Bryan DiSylvester with the Springfield Police Department says it’s a continual moderate problem in the city. According to DiSylvester, the majority isn’t gang-related, but some of it is. That’s why the department wants the public to report any graffiti on private property.
"So that we can at least check it to see if it appears to be a gang-related type graffiti or just vandalism, tagging type graffiti," he said.
The special investigations unit, which handles gang investigations, keeps a database of it. DiSylvester says that can show if there’s an increase in gang activity in a certain area.
"If we were to get, say, a substantial number of gang-related graffiti incidents in a certain area, then obviously we would monitor that area who it is and what's causing the uptick," he said.
After property owners report the damage to police, a new program will help with cleanup.
The Community Partnership of the Ozarks has a new graffiti removal program in place. Local youth from Boys and Girls Club of Springfield paint over the graffiti at no cost to the property owner.
Erica Manahan is director of Community Partnership’s Regional Support Center. She says, while graffiti can sometimes be appreciated as an art form, it’s often on property where it doesn’t belong.
"So, that's really kind of the problem is they are, you know, destroying someone else's property, and so I really think it just helps to improve the look of Springfield. Graffiti tends to attract graffiti and so, you know, if we can kind of start to get that covered up then we will hopefully just start to help Springfield look a little bit better, and it'll sort of detract from the graffiti process in general," she said.
Manahan says the program got started through the Task Force on Gangs and Youth Violence. The group wanted to tackle the graffiti problem and use local youth to help address the problem.
If you discover graffiti on your property, you can let the Springfield Police Department know by going to their website, springfieldmo.gov/spd, and clicking on “report graffiti.”
To request help with cleanup, visit commpartnership.org/graffiti or call 888-2020.
For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.