Aspen police combat graffiti |

Aspen police combat graffiti

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Courtesy Aspen Police DepartmentAspen policeman David Thompson uses spray paint to clean up graffiti in the city's commercial core last week. The police department is urging residents and businesses to report graffiti. Call (970) 920-5400 and ask for Officer Kirk Wheatley.

ASPEN – It’s pretty clear that the Aspen Police Department doesn’t consider graffiti an art form.

On Friday, three police officers combed city alleyways in an effort to erase years of graffiti from outside walls, Dumpsters and electrical boxes. Their method was the same one the culprits used to deface numerous public and private properties in the area: spray paint.

Officer David Thompson said covering the graffiti deters youths from following in the footsteps of the paint-wielding violators.

“When kids see graffiti on the walls, they think it is OK to follow suit,” he said.

An Aspen police news release indicates the department felt it was important to remove the unsightly markings to help improve the image of the city, creating a sense of pride among residents and a feeling of safety for visitors.

At first glance, Aspen doesn’t appear to have an abundance of graffiti, but a quick stroll down one of the city’s many alleys downtown proved otherwise, the department said.

Police spokeswoman Blair Weyer said the number of graffiti incidents that occur around town is difficult to estimate because very few of them actually result in police reports.

“Typically, a report is only taken when someone reports an incident that will cost a significant amount of money to repair or if there are recurring markings around town that appear to be associated,” she said.

Also, city’s parks and streets departments handle many cases of graffiti internally.

Friday marked the first time the police department has conducted a “graffiti cleanup day.” Weyer said the department will gauge the response from residents and business owners before deciding whether to make it an annual event.

“The department felt this event was a success, in that officers were able to cover 50 different graffiti locations. Unfortunately, there is more out there, as officers were unable to make contact with numerous private businesses and building owners regarding graffiti on their buildings,” she said.

She added that graffiti cleanup is not a traditional role for Aspen police, but many officers felt it was their duty to try to help out local businesses. Besides Thompson, officers who participated in Friday’s initiative were Kirk Wheatley and Jason Boston.

The police department is encouraging residents and businesses to report graffiti markings by calling 920-5400 and asking for Officer Wheatley.

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