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Update: Graffiti Awareness and Arrests are Up, Tagging is Down

An 18-month community effort to rid Anaheim of graffiti has made considerable strides toward achieving its goals, officials said last week.

But the problem is far from solved.

Chief John Welter discusses ways to engage the community's participation in ridding Anaheim of graffiti

Chief John Welter discusses ways to engage the community's participation in ridding Anaheim of graffiti

At a meeting Thursday, about 50 city and police employees joined some community members to discuss accomplishments and next steps for the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort (ACAGE).

Among the accomplishments:

  • 478 graffiti-related arrests and 713 cases cleared.
  • More than 27,000 sq. ft. of graffiti removed last summer by the Disney Goals team, comprised of 24 teenage volunteers.
  • The launching of a city-wide program to give parents tools to discourage their children from tagging.
  • The amount of new graffiti being reported is down.

“I’ve very pleased with the effort we’ve made and what’s happened,” Anaheim Police Chief John Welter told attendees. “But we’re not done. We’re not going to stop.”

The Police Department plans to address students at 20 school assemblies. The city’s legal department is considering new ordinances to stiffen penalties. A group of volunteers continues to paint over graffiti as it’s discovered.

The police department is also testing new technology that sends immediate alerts when taggers strike.

Welter said he hopes the group continues to focus on raising awareness.

“It’s not just about enforcement,” he said. “It’s about getting at the root cause.”

APD: To Stop Taggers, Report Graffiti Immediately

The approach is inventive and aggressive – and the mission is clear: Discourage taggers from vandalizing the city.

City Councilman Harry Sidhu and Police Chief John Welter join ACAGE members in painting over graffiti

City Councilman Harry Sidhu and Police Chief John Welter join ACAGE members in painting over graffiti

The message is just as clear: To be successful, police officers, city leaders, business owners and residents must work together.

“Graffiti is a complicated problem,” said Sherri Vander Dussen, Anaheim’s planning director. “We need to have a lot of people involved in the solution. You can’t assume that one answer that prevents one kid from doing graffiti is going to prevent another.”

For 18 months, a cross-section of city officials and community members bound together as the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort (ACAGE) have addressed the issue. Most recently, volunteers armed with paint brushes “cleaned up” the Balsam/Curtis/Banyan area of the city. And on Saturday, state Sen. Lou Correa led another ACAGE effort.

“This is the first program of its kind in the city and involves adopting a city neighborhood under a one-year commitment to clean up graffiti, shopping carts and other eye sores,” wrote Victor Dominguez, an Anaheim Rotary member, in a recent Anaheim Bulletin article.

The effort also includes finding new ways to make targets less vulnerable, educating children about the perils of vandalism and encouraging prosecution.

Already, the program has touched more than 10,000 residents.

“I’m very pleased to see the progress we’ve made so far,” said Police Chief John Welter, who has led the effort. “And I’m even more excited about the progress we’re going to make over the next six months.”

To report graffiti, call 3-1-1 or (714) 765-4311.

“We’ve learned that the faster that graffiti is removed the less likely it is to recur,” said Vander Dussen.

For more information about the program’s goals, click here to read an informative article in the current edition of Anaheim magazine.

Please join us at our next meeting. It’s scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Anaheim Family Justice Center, 150 W. Vermont Avenue.

And stay tuned for updates on this important initiative.