Don't Let Them Mark Your Turf
The City of Des Moines operates a graffiti removal program to “erase” graffiti that appears in our neighborhoods, on public property and in commercial areas. Graffiti includes undesirable messages, scribbles, and symbols that are usually spray- or hand- painted on fences, buildings, bridges, and other structures, as well as on objects such as trees, trash dumpsters and street signs. The ugly results can require much work and expense to remove. The number of incidences of graffiti continues to increase in our city each year; over 90% of them are the result of gangs marking or “tagging” their respective areas of turf and sending messages to rival gangs.
The city’s graffiti program is administered by the Park and Recreation Department, which handles removal, and the Police Department’s Gang Unit, which tracks the locations and messages to monitor for possible gang activity and to create various types of reports. Parks’ goal is to have HATE graffiti removed within 24 hours or less of its reporting, and GANG graffiti eliminated within three working days. Although police patrols of the City’s Neighborhood Based Service Delivery (NBSD) Program are constantly on the lookout for and reporting graffiti sightings, the Parks and Police Departments rely on the eyes of the public to help them eliminate graffiti.
How to Report Graffiti
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can report the location and nature of a graffiti sighting to the Park and Recreation Department via email or phone (515) 248-6350 or the Police Graffiti Hot Line: (515) 237-1808.
Facts About Grafitti in Des Moines
Following are the number of reported graffiti incidences in the past three years:
2007 – 1121
2008 – 1277
2009 - 1392
Over 90% of these graffiti cases are gang-related. 50% of them occur on private property and the other 50% are on public property. Private property includes places of business, houses, garages, fences and other buildings. Public property includes bridges, over- and under-passes, freeway walls on the non-DOT side, utility boxes and poles, trees, sidewalks, park property, etc. Schools and the DOT take care of their own incidences of graffiti so the numbers cited do not include graffiti on those properties. Also not included are incidences taken care of by private property owners without being reported to police.
The City contracts graffiti removal through a bid process; the current contract is for $43.50/hour plus the cost of paint supplies, which is generally around $5,000 annually. White paint is used on the majority of surfaces; when paint is not the solution, a product called Elephant Snot is used for removal on fences, metal buildings, etc.