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Oct 12, 2012 10:29 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Graffiti Forum: neighbors meet this weekend to take down taggers

TUCSON- Shake. Spray. Repeat.

They are two steps Ronni Kotwica has become very familiar with.

Whenever the President of the Palo Verde Neighborhood Association sees graffiti, she takes a can of spray paint and covers it up. "In our neighborhood, we're very proactive," Kotwica says. "It just makes the neighborhood look trashy."

It's not just her neighborhood. So far in 2012 Tucson Police have reported 40,933 incidents of graffiti. There were a total of 38,255 incidents for the same period in 2011. "The area hit the hardest is the South Side," Sgt. Chris Widmer says.

But Widmer says the increase doesn't necessarily mean more taggers, it could be because more people are reporting cases of graffiti.

A year and a half ago, TPD created a "Tag Unit" dedicated to fighting graffiti. The unit is comprised of two officers and one sergeant. They help educate people on ways to report graffiti, which in turn helps them crack down on taggers. "Our Tag Unit will put the pictures people send us, together and start relating one graffiti act to another, and then start identifying the people doing this," Sgt. Widmer says.

It's definitely a start, but Kotwica says more action needs to be taken. "The more neighborhoods that are engaged to remove graffiti, then the less of a problem it becomes," Kotwica says.

This weekend she's hosting the third Graffiti Action Forum, open to neighbors from all sides of Tucson. "We're going to readdress some of the issues we have been working on and see how we can move forward to be more of a watchdog over what happens in the court proceedings," Kotwica says.

If you would like to attend the forum, it will be from 10am until noon this Saturday, October 13, at the Ward 6 Building at 3202 East 1st Street.

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