Pittsburgh police to restart anti-graffiti squad
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is resurrecting a special police squad to crack down on graffiti vandals across the city.
Peduto announced on Friday that three detectives would be assigned to a graffiti task force starting on Monday. The squad, which proved effective in busting spray-paint vandals, was disbanded last year because of lowered police staffing, according to acting Chief Regina McDonald.
Peduto opposed the move. “It's critical, and it works,” Peduto said while speaking to reporters after a church service for three officers killed by a gunman in Stanton Heights five years ago.
“It's part of the broken window theory,” he said. “If you let the graffiti stand, then eventually you're going to find more litter. Once the litter and graffiti are there, you see the crime.”
McDonald said the police bureau has increased its ranks and now has enough officers to accommodate another graffiti squad. Twenty-six officers graduated in February, and about 50 recruits are in training.
Lauren Byrne, executive director of the nonprofit Lawrenceville United, said the neighborhood has seen a rash of graffiti in recent months.
“I can't necessarily say it's because (the graffiti squad) was disbanded, but because we see the same images over and over again, it makes me believe that people don't feel they are going to be held accountable because of the number of times they're doing it.”
Byrne said the name “Asher” and a heart with two letter Xs inside it are recurring spray-paint images in Lawrenceville.
Graffiti vandals are known to spray paint images repeatedly, known as tags. Byrne said the squad maintained a database of tags that permitted officers to link multiple graffiti cases to one suspect.
“We're excited to have the graffiti task force back again,” she said.
The graffiti squad began in 2006 and has made high-profile arrests, including members of Pittsburgh's Most Wanted Graffiti Vandals Ian de Beer and Daniel J. Montano. Montano was sentenced in 2008 to 2½ to five years in prison and ordered to pay $232,582, and de Beer was sentenced in 2010 to one to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $45,000 in restitution.
According to the police department's annual report, the graffiti squad made eight arrests and secured $10,564 in restitution in 2012.
Statistics from 2013 were not available, but police reported before the squad was disbanded last April they arrested eight people in a two-week period and handled 14 graffiti complaints totaling $17,000 in damages.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Jerome Bettis to be enshrined in hall of fame
- Tennessee quarterback Peterman considers transfer to Pitt
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Westmoreland museum spotlights artist John Kane’s late-in-life fame
- Pitt upsets No. 8 Notre Dame to snap losing streak
- Gulls fleeing frozen Great Lakes fill skies over Pittsburgh’s Point
- Starkey: Pitt needs this version of James Robinson
- Penguins minor league notebook: Rookie Wilson emerges as 3rd-line NHL prospect
- City crews getting ready for winter storm expected Sunday, Monday
- Familiar Downtown Pittsburgh presence lost arm, leg to train
- Rossi: History beckons for Seattle’s Seahawks