Friday, March 4, 2011

City Launches New Graffiti Tracking Program to Catch Offenders


Councilmember Jose Huizar-Hollenbeck-LAPD-Graffit Tracking-TAGRS 1

For Immediate Release
Contact: Rick Coca

Mayor, City Attorney join LAPD, Public Works and City’s Technology Department to launch four-division program introduced by Councilmember Huizar

LOS ANGELES (March 4, 2011) — City officials announced details of a four-division program today that will allow graffiti removal crews to take photographs of graffiti tags, which will then be uploaded to an LAPD database that will be used to gather evidence for prosecution and restitution.

The new Tracking Automated Graffiti System (TAGRS) database means the City, which spends an estimated $10 million a year on graffiti abatement, will now have the ability to expand the program to all 21 police divisions using a single system.

The program was launched through legislation introduced by Councilmember José Huizar in 2008 and has been a multi-agency effort with significant support from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilmember Huizar, LAPD, the Public Works Department, Information and Technology Agency, the City Attorney, and the District Attorney, with assistance from the Orange County Sheriffs Department.

“This database will help our law enforcement and City partners team up to ID, arrest and prosecute the worst taggers and tagging crews in the City,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “Graffiti is one of the biggest quality-of-life issues our residents face – it is a problem that demands action and working with the Mayor, the LAPD and our City and County partners, I am proud to be part of a solution to combat graffiti and blight in our neighborhoods.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helped secure funding for the TAGRS database system, earmarking $340,000 in federal CDBG funds in last year’s Consolidated Plan.

“TAGRS is an innovative, city-wide anti-graffiti program that gets at the root of the problem—the criminals who tag,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “Graffiti breeds crime and devalues property and has no place in our communities. By using smartphones to gather evidence, the LAPD will be able to track graffiti and apprehend the criminals who vandalize our City.”

The new program (building on a pilot at Van Nuys Division), includes Hollenbeck, Van Nuys, Harbor and Central Divisions and will test out a new City of L.A. only TAGRS database.

Previously, in Van Nuys, the City shared Orange County’s system.

Public Works graffiti abatement contractors have been trained to access the system using more than 90 new smartphones that the City purchased for them.

LAPD will use those photographs to gather evidence that will be submitted for prosecution by the Los Angeles County District Attorney when an individual causes more than $1,000 in damages. The Los Angeles City Attorney will pursue misdemeanor cases and financial restitution.

The City’s TAGRS database system became fully operational this week.

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