Painted into a corner

Clovis Deputy Police Chief Dan Blair identifies graffiti across Clovis Thursday aftertnoon. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Holding parents financially responsible for graffiti painted by their children and getting property owners to remove it quickly are solutions Clovis city officials are considering for the consistent vandalism problem.

Deputy Police Chief Dan Blair said once police have conducted investigations and filed reports, it is up to the city and property owners to remove graffiti.

Parents of minors can be pursued in civil court under state law for the cost of damages and to clean up property their children have vandalized with graffiti, Blair said.

Additionally, property owners who are victims of graffiti are obligated to remove or cover it as soon as a police report is taken to prevent an eyesore to the community, Blair explained. If they are unable to clean it, he said they need to authorize the city to do it.

The city should file civil claims against property owners for compensation of time and materials when it is forced to clean up graffiti, Blair asserted.
“Property owners need to take a little pride. It’s pride — pride in the community. If you take pride, it rubs off on people,” Blair said.

City Manager Joe Thomas said the suggestions of the police department made to the Clovis City Commission are being taken under consideration. Thomas said city officials are looking at a combined approach to graffiti and other code violations involving weeds and trash.

Thomas presented a proposal at Thursday’s Commission meeting that includes hiring personnel and purchasing equipment to eradicate graffiti and address weeds and trash.

Seeking financial compensation from parents is a good idea, Thomas said. “We are very much in favor of that. It’s still strongly under consideration and will probably be pursued,” he said.

“We certainly want to insure the problem doesn’t escalate. If you don’t have some kind of an abatement in place, one incident will lead to another. Hopefully we will instill enough community pride in folks that they will take care of their property,” he said.

There have been 83 offense reports taken since January 2005 for unauthorized graffiti. But Blair said the problem is bigger than the numbers indicate because graffiti is often unreported.

He encouraged residents to call police so incidents can be documented and investigated.

Blair explained that police responsibility extends only to investigating and filing charges for the crime.

“We are part of the solution but we are not the overall solution,” he said.
However, he said, keeping Clovis beautiful is a concern the police department shares with the community.