Police Chief Gordon Ramsay: Graffiti is now a problem in Duluth
There are few crimes against property that generate the anger, frustration and fear that graffiti vandalism does. Both the victims and their neighbors are outraged at the violation of property and by the image of vandals and gangs roaming the nei...
There are few crimes against property that generate the anger, frustration and fear that graffiti vandalism does.
Both the victims and their neighbors are outraged at the violation of property and by the image of vandals and gangs roaming the neighborhood.
Duluth had been somewhat immune to this trend that has troubled so many cities nationwide, but in recent months we've all noticed an increase in graffiti.
Often citizens don't realize the amount of time police spend investigating non-glamorous crimes such as graffiti.
Last year we assigned specific officers to investigate graffiti.
Our officers made several arrests last fall; however, these arrests appear to have had little effect.
Department staff conducted a quick review of a few juveniles charged and sentenced for vandalizing property with graffiti.
A juvenile who we determined was a major graffiti vandal was caught after painting up the Piedmont area.
He received just six months probation after defacing a felony amount of public property (at a cost of thousands of dollars) and ordered to pay restitution.
Another was apprehended after spray painting downtown; he received a sentence of probation until he is 18 and was ordered to pay restitution.
A third graffiti vandal was caught a second time only two weeks after being in court for doing the same thing.
Instances like these frustrate our officers. The item of most concern about these cases is that none of the three have yet paid a penny in restitution to the property owners who are expecting it.
We continue to investigate and apprehend those responsible for this vandalism. The vandals have cost private and public property owners tens of thousands of dollars.
Our officers investigating these cases are photographing and documenting the damage done.
When we do apprehend the vandals, we will aggressively seek full prosecution and strong sentences for each and every act. In addition, we will encourage victims and neighborhood groups to become involved in the court process to ensure their voices are heard by the court and the vandals are held fully accountable for the damage they have done.
When graffiti occurs, one of the first places to have your voice heard is through elected officials. With few exceptions, the frustrated citizen's request is always, understandably, the same: Do something!
In upcoming months there will be proposed ordinances coming forward to help the police and other government entities deal with graffiti.
During the process of creating new ordinances, there are many opportunities for media exposure and for the citizens to address the council and city administration. Please support the police department and local elected officials who take a reasoned approach to the issue.
You can also help by calling 911 immediately when you see suspicious activity.
In other activity, we've added extra patrols in the East Hillside area on weekends for the last six weeks to focus on loud parties and disturbing behavior. The effort was funded by a community crime prevention grant we obtained through the state of Minnesota. Officers wrote many underage-consumption tickets and other related violations.
We know in Duluth the weather can be our best friend for keeping outdoor parties and disturbances to a minimum.
With snow almost every weekend in April and into May, there is no doubt it aided our efforts this year. We will continue to have extra patrols out over the summer months and will utilize plain-clothed officers, as well as foot and bike patrols, to keep ahead of problems.
If you would like an officer to come and speak to your community or neighborhood group, please call my office at 730-5020 and we will arrange it.