Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick abatement

In Minneapolis, MN, quick abatement does not work. Truth is, it's an illusion. Landowners are not glad, and the cost of removal is not minimal.

The City tracked 12,531 graffiti crimes in 2009, an increase over 2008. The City Attorney charged only 43 as a crime, a decrease from 2008. All others went unpunished. City staff were instructed to harass landowners and force them to incur $6.9 million to clean up the mess quickly.

Quick abatement gives citizens the illusion of free money. Unfortunately, the price of free always increases. Like weeds, both the neighborhoods and the landowners must endure the same do-do, year after year.

A tax-free solution does exist. It offers a police investigator a tool when there is no eye-witness. A simple change in the law would allow a peace officer to qualify as an expert to offer testimony that identifies who is responsible for the graffiti. Keep in mind that a street cop would not qualify. The expert must be a higher-up who is "authorized to approve the charge". The "charge" would be a non-criminal citation, which is similar to a parking ticket.

The Minneapolis Council is proud of its "Graffiti Gone" strategy, which allows vandals who play Hide-n-Seek to beat the rap! That explains why it refuses to let police identify unseen graffiti vandals in court.

Certainty of punishment is its own deterrent. The only solution to the graffiti menace is to decriminalize some graffiti acts. That will enable a trained investigator, who is a step or two above the street cop, to identify the unseen graffiti vandal in an informal hearing.