Since mid-January, graffiti has become a top priority for the Gainesville Police Department.
In response to increased amounts of graffiti in the city, the city commission has developed a campaign to raise public awareness toward the issue and minimize the unwelcome marks, said Bob Woods, a city spokesman.
This month, the city will unroll the campaign, which will encourage residents to report incidences of vandalism to the GPD.
The city paid to clean 123 sites between Oct. 1 and Jan. 24. Some sites took as long as eight hours to restore, Woods said.
Tagging recently became a pervasive form of graffiti in Gainesville. Taggers use spray paint, shoe polish or other inks to create a signature symbol or mark. One group caused $100,000 of damage to public and private property in one night, said Lt. Rob Koehler, a GPD specialty unit commander.
The development and execution of the campaign was a collaborative effort among the city of Gainesville, Keep Alachua County Beautiful and GPD.
In January, the Gang Intervention Unit of GPD addressed the issue of city graffiti. The police arrested about nine people they linked to tagging.
With a recent influx of graffiti in midtown and downtown, GPD has initiated a program for tracking and deciphering the tags, Koehler said.
When public property is tagged, taxpayers’ dollars are used to repair the damage. But when the mark is made on private property, the shop or homeowner takes the hit, Koehler said.
One small-business owner reported it would cost between $2,500 and $4,000 to paint over the marks on the store he or she owned, Woods said.
He said the unexpected expense is no different than criminals taking the money out of the cash register.
“We’re all struggling right now,” Woods said. “So every dollar is important.”
Graffiti covers the wall in front of a house on University Avenue on Thursday. In response to increased amounts of graffiti, spokesman Bob Woods said the city has developed a campaign to raise public awareness toward the issue and minimize the unwelcome marks. The campaign will be unrolled this month.