Tucson Police take steps to fight graffiti

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Beki Quintero is the president of Tucson's Sunnyside Neighborhood Association.Twice a month, she patrols the 2.3 square miles of her neighborhood to document graffiti.

She spends about 20 hours a month using the paint in the back of her truck to cover graffiti, which she finds it everywhere.

"Boxes, signs, poles, buildings, even on a dog," Quintero said of the graffiti.

But the Tucson Police Department wants to offer even more assistance in the form of a new unit called "TAG."

"It's called targeting all graffiti, and it's two officers, with some analytical help from one of our analysts, to deal with the problem and to try and start identifying the people who go out there and habitually tag," said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor.

They'll do that in two ways:

One is with a graffiti hotline they want people to call if they know of someone tagging. That number is 88-Crime.

"That information will be gathered. It will be turned over to us for follow up, and hopefully prosecution," Villaseñor said.

The other way is with a database compiled by graffiti removal company Graffiti Protective Coatings (GPC).

"What they can do now is enter that name, and anything that comes out historically for that person, will come out there with all the cost, satellite positioning, addresses, the whole nine yards," said Lupe Mercado, general manager of GPC.

It's a high tech tool the chief hopes will ultimately lower the number of graffiti calls, increase the number of arrests, and clean up neighborhoods.

Quintero is thankful for TPD's involvement.

"This is long overdue, and I am so happy," Quintero said.

Local businesses are also teaming up to raise money to fight the graffiti problem. Their long-term goal is to buy cameras and install them at different hotspots around the city to catch people in the act.

Meanwhile, Chief Villaseñor wanted to stress that people should not call 88-Crime to report graffiti, but rather to report people who may be involved with graffiti.