Graffiti is not art - it is a crime against a community. In fact, graffiti is the single most destructive property crime in the nation, often costing individual businesses and homeowners thousands of dollars to remove. Graffiti or "tagging" is an act of vandalism and classified under the Penal Code as a misdemeanor. Punishment is imprisonment in a state prison or county jail not exceeding one year and/or fines ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 depending on the amount of damage and prior convictions for this offense. What is Being Done?
The Mill Valley Police Department will continue to respond and document vandalism incidents. The Department will also continue to investigate and prosecute these crimes. In response to the increased level of this type of vandalism the Department has created an Abatement Program headed by CSO Sheryl Patton. As soon as a graffiti incident is reported, the site is photographed and an incident report is taken. The photograph becomes part of a "taggers book" to document the tag and location. This photographic information is important in matching up the tags to various sites in order to apprehend, prosecute and effect restitution. For example, matching a specific tag to several sites can aggregate the damage into a single felony case instead of multiple misdemeanor cases. Lastly, surveillance cameras are being employed in high incident areas.
Community Services Officer Sheryl Patton.
The Department is providing white/beige paint for graffiti cover, or building owners can provide their own paint to match the existing surface. We also have some clean-up products but their use is limited. In some locations, landscaping is a preferred method of abatement.
The goal is to remove the graffiti within a few days of reporting. Studies have proven that a quick response to graffiti removal stems the tide of repeat offenses. At this time, the abatement work is being done by juveniles in the Diversion Program.
As a member of the Northern California Anti-Graffiti Task Force CSO Patton has access to information and resources on viable clean-up products and methods, Internet tagger sites, ordinance and enforcement procedures and landscaping methods.
What Can You Do? Get Involved!
If you see an act of graffiti vandalism in progress, call 911 immediately.
If you know the identity of a graffiti vandal, report this person to the Mill Valley Police Anonymous Tip line at 415/721-4547.
Report new or existing graffiti or to request clean-up of your building, call CSO Sheryl Patton at 389-4100 x124.
Businesses which sell spray paint need to be alert to shoplifting and comply with laws pertaining to the sale of this product.
Parents need to be aware of their children's activities and whereabouts.
Donate beige/white paint, brushes and rollers to the Police Department for graffiti abatement work. Call 389-4100 x124 for more information.