Today’s news:

‘Octopus’ Tops Growing List of Graffiti Busts

It seems that people are coming from all over the country to scribble something in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. Case in point: roughly two months ago, a well-known activist from San Francisco came to DUMBO, just to mar up a wall with what witnesses described as a “pink octopus.” But before Harrison Bartlett could put the finishing touches on the tentacles in front of 18 Bridge Street, cops from the 84th Precinct rounded up and arrested him, charging him with making graffiti. The December apprehension was just one of many arrests cops from the 84th Precinct made in their ongoing war against graffiti — a war that is sure to heat up again come springtime. That’s why cops have already put their anti-graffiti initiative into high gear. Police said that over the last year or so cops from the 84th Precinct made 16 graffiti arrests – 13 misdemeanors and three felonies. Cops are hoping to improve on that record this year, but first they need the community’s help. The 84th Precinct is actively encouraging area residents and business owners to sign up for their many programs that include waivers that would allow the NYPD to paint over graffiti-strewn buildings free of charge, as well as receive free materials so they can paint over the buildings themselves. The NYPD is also asking residents and business owners to sign up for a program where police are given permission to make arrests when a graffiti vandal is seen scrawling on a property without consulting the property owner, since most graffiti arrests are conducted in the dead of the night and the landlords are asleep when cops call, informing them that someone has been apprehended tagging up their property. As the ongoing war against graffiti vandals continues, cops are offering up to $500 in reward money to anyone who can offer them information that can lead them to anyone who commits graffiti vandalism. At the same time, the City Council voted to raise the penalties on graffiti crimes, making them felonies. Graffiti is one of the leading quality of life complaints brought to police. Officials said that cleaning up graffiti is essential to the plan, to show that the community is no longer going to tolerate marred and tagged-up walls and street corners. According to police there is a perception that if a community will tolerate graffiti, they would tolerate other criminal activities, such as drug dealing and prostitution. “A lot of people think that graffiti is a victimless crime, but it’s not. It has an effect on people’s psyche,” said Lt. Steven Mona of the NYPD Graffiti Vandals Task Force, a cop who has dedicated his career to fighting graffiti and arresting vandals. “I can sit here and tell you how safe your neighborhood and your block is, but if your block is covered with graffiti, you feel unsafe. That’s what it comes down to.” Anyone with information about graffiti vandalism is urged to contact either 311 or 911. To sign up for one of the 84th Precinct’s many programs, one can call (718) 875-6811.

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