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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Graffiti sting: Shawnee police use technology to catch taggers downtown

  • With graffiti activity increasing downtown this summer, the Shawnee Police Department is launching its crime-fighting technology tool to help them catch graffiti vandals in the act.


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  • With graffiti activity increasing downtown this summer, the Shawnee Police Department is launching its crime-fighting technology tool to help them catch graffiti vandals in the act.
    Shawnee Police Lt. Mason Wilson, who is also commander of the department’s Gang Task Force, said graffiti activity on walls and buildings around downtown has increased in recent weeks and so they plan to deploy their crime-fighting graffiti abatement tools specifically in that area.
    “We’ll be utilizing technology in downtown to curb the problem,”
    Wilson said.
    The technology is equipment obtained by the department just over a year ago. The system gives officers on patrol a live, eyewitness account of graffiti incidents as they are taking place so officers can respond.
    “You might has well be calling the police department and telling us before you do it,” Wilson said.
    The technology can be moved around and placed anywhere at anytime, he said, so spray painters are being forewarned as many areas, with a focus on downtown Shawnee, are included in the enforcement.
    The new equipment, which is mobile and undetectable, has been used in other cities and has proven to be successful, Wilson said.
    Typically in Shawnee, incidents of graffiti vandalism seem to increase during spring break and the summer months when teens aren’t in school, although it occurs year-round by persons of all ages, police said.
    And while many times the graffiti appears to be random sayings or drawings done by individuals, oftentimes, police said graffiti serves as messages between different gangs. Police have learned to decode some of the graffiti.
    As part of the proactive enforcement downtown, Wilson reminds area residents that the city of Shawnee has an ordinance prohibiting anyone under age 18 from being in possession of spray paint. Ordinances also prohibit businesses from selling spray paint to minors, he said.
    If people find graffiti on their business, home, fence, outbuildings or other structures, they should contact police so the graffiti can be documented for identification, Wilson said, then police urge property owners to paint over that graffiti immediately. ?
    And while the task force is stepping up its efforts to fight graffiti, members say the public is still the department’s best resource.
    Residents are asked to be aware of gang activity and to report suspicious activity or graffiti by calling and leaving a message on the Gang Task Force tip line, 878-1570.?
    Violators who are caught spray painting can face a variety of charges, from malicious mischief to vandalism.
     

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