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Task Force Makes Progress in Cleaning Up Graffiti

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Efforts continue to clean up and stop graffiti in the City of Buffalo. The "Graffiti Hurts Task Force" met Thursday at UB's South Campus.

A year ago, the city was hit hard with graffiti sprawled along buildings, roadways and even parks. But the Graffiti Hurts Task Force, created by the Regional Community Policing Center at UB, has been fighting the graffiti vandals. Director of the city's Support Services, Jim Pavel, says the task force has been conducting graffiti removal.

"We know that if we remove it at least three times, there's a 95 percent chance of it staying off," Pavel said. "We know if we match the color of the background the first time there's a 65 percent chance. The stuff these bums or vandals are using to paint the graffiti is costly."

Recently, two graffiti vandals were arrested. Pavel says they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is now a "zero tolerance" against those caught defacing city property.

"The district attorney's office and the courts are all working together," he said. "They are going to come down with harder sentences. It is going to be very embarrassing for these kids. They're going to get recognition, but not for what they are seeking."

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has created a graffiti prevention program to keep vandals out of city parks. John Barnes is the coordinator and also a task force member. Barnes says they are developing strategies to crack down graffiti bandits.

"A lot of strategies involve strategic landscaping, motion sensor lighting and citizen patrol. And the key ingredient is timely removal," Barnes said. "We work to remove graffiti in a 24-hour basis."

Barnes says he believes the city has made "great strides" in the past year in fighting graffiti vandals. The task force is also working on education and prevention, targeting the youth with a simple message -- respect other people's property.