BY ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
Businesses should not feel alone in fighting the graffiti problem that has been plaguing Bloomington.
Since spring 2009, the city has stepped up efforts to fight graffiti through the use of a Safe and Civil City Hotline (355-7777), a Report Graffiti form found online, and an increase in police patrols.
According to Beverly Calender-Anderson, the director of the Safe and Civil City Program, the city has been able to monitor trends in graffiti by tracking where and how often such vandalism occurs. Patrols have been increased in these areas, and vandals caught in the act have been turned over to the prosecutor.
“I think our ability to respond has gotten better,” says Calender-Anderson. “I don’t know if the graffiti has decreased, but collecting evidence to make arrests has gotten better and people who are caught are getting penalized.”
If convicted, a guilty party can lose his or her driver’s license for a year, be fined $5,000, or spend up to three years in jail, depending on the severity of the damage.
Along with reporting the vandalism, the best thing business owners can do is to remove the graffiti within 48 hours of finding it.
“The sooner you cover it up, the less likely they’ll come back,” Calender-Anderson says. “Property owners who have done that have had success.” The city’s website even includes a page with detailed instructions on the best methods of removing graffiti.
The summer months typically see a rise in graffiti vandalism. “It tends to increase when the college students leave…less traffic, less fear of being caught,” Calender-Anderson says.
Plans are also in the works to develop a citizenship campaign directed toward middle and high school students on what it means to be a good neighbor and community member.