City government cracks down on graffiti

Photo by Claire Murray | Asst. Photo Editor. Graffiti lines the exterior of a storefront on East Carson Street in South Side.

Photo by Claire Murray | Asst. Photo Editor. Graffiti lines the exterior of a storefront on East Carson Street in South Side.

By Carley Thieret | Asst. Opinions Editor

As warm weather approaches, Mayor Bill Peduto is looking for more than just flowers and sunshine to make Pittsburgh look beautiful.

The mayor announced on April 4 the reinstatement of the Graffiti Task Force that was disbanded one year ago.

Tim McNulty, Peduto’s spokesman, said the mayor has always been a supporter of the task force and was disappointed when it was disbanded.

“Mayor Peduto made reinstating the force one of his top priorities upon being elected into office, and spring is the best time to make this announcement because it is the perfect weather for the power washers used in cleaning up the graffiti,” McNulty said.

Cmdr. Linda Rosato-Barone will be heading the unit, with two additional detectives working under her. McNulty said Peduto has plans to add a third officer to the force in the future.

The force, which was created in 2006, had a great track record, and McNulty believes that the collaboration between the mayor’s office and the police force will provide a clean and beautiful city for the residents of Pittsburgh.

McNulty said the effort will also eliminate the vandalism and crime that accompanies graffiti.

“Where there is graffiti there is usually a history of vandalism, followed by crime,” McNulty said. “By reinstating the graffiti force we are hoping to eliminate the graffiti and reduce the amount of vandalism and crime that takes place within the city of Pittsburgh.”

City Council President Bruce Kraus is an avid supporter of reinstating the force, and has been a strong advocate for graffiti prevention since the force’s inception in 2006.

Kraus said he noticed a significant difference in the amount of graffiti throughout the city after the force was disbanded. Kraus believes that by collaborating with the police, the city will send a message that defacing property is taken seriously, and those found guilty could face possible jail time.

The task force will be run directly by Barone and the police in collaboration with the mayor’s office. Major goals of the first spring back on the job include reforming the force and beginning to clean areas such as the South Side, Hill District and Highland Park.

“First and foremost we want to show vandals that … graffiti won’t be tolerated, period,” Kraus said. “If the past is indicative of the future we will hope to have a handle on it soon.”

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