Los Angeles Mayor announced to slash costs in his new anti-graffiti measure: Tracking and Automated Graffiti Removal System (TAGRS). This measure will allow graffiti-cleaning crews to use smart phones to photograph graffiti, and then uploads the images to the LAPD database used to gather evidence for prosecution and restitution. The program designed to make it easier for Los Angeles authorities to track graffiti vandals is being expanded and they claim that it will help lower anti-graffiti costs. The program will coast $345,000 over two years. Currently, the city spends $10 million a year on graffiti removal.
According to Taco.com: “Besides the fact that we hate seeing the city’s more colorful productions buffed by overzealous, money-hungry agencies and temporary workers trying to fulfill their community service, the economics surrounding municipal graffiti removal seldom seem to add up. Who can forget the $4,000.000 price tag attached to the city’s removal of an MTA piece in the L.A. River? Slash that price tag indeed! Similar to the media’s perpetual marrying of taggers to gang members, these sky-high costs only ever seem to add up to scare tactics and wonky math that remind us all too well of those $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers supposedly once purchased by The Pentagon.”
“TAGRS is an innovative, citywide anti-graffiti program that gets at the root of the problem—the criminals who tag,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
Currently the program is in action at LAPD’s Hollenbeck, Van Nuys, Harbor and Central divisions. Soon the city will expand it to all 21 police divisions in the city.
“This database will help our law enforcement and city partners team up to I.D., arrest and prosecute the worst taggers and tagging crews in the city,” said Councilman Jose Huizar. “Graffiti is one of the biggest quality-of-life issues for our residents—it is a problem that demands action.”
One police spokesperson said, “Taggers are like baby pigeons. We never see them but we know they exist.”
Graffiti is a nuisance to the city not its residents because it costs them an alleged $10M in graffiti cleanup. Graffiti is a symptom of a bigger problem that is going on in the community. The root of the problem is not graffiti, it’s the lack of community values, the lack of community investment.
TAGRS is a surveillance unit against artists. Any public measures that have the work anti is sort of a code word for: taking freedoms away. The city should give financial grants or grant community artist space to so that their art can be developed into a career or as a means to express themselves in a constructive environment. And if the city is worried about graffiti causing violence then the city should invest develop programs that identify what causes gang activity.