Drafted Ordinance Would Clean Up Graffiti

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Houses, sidewalks, barns, and bridges - everywhere you look, graffiti.

"It's getting pretty bad. It originally started just on the north side of town, but it's covering the city now. It goes all the way down south."

Officer Jason Cook works with Jonesboro's PROWL Unit and says a proposed ordinance to tackle graffiti is something that's needed.

"It just makes the community look bad. Our thing is, we want to clean it up, clean the community up, and make it look better. Nobody wants the stuff on their houses, on the bridges, and things like that," said Cook.

So Jonesboro Police and Code Enforcement are drafting an ordinance that would hold at least someone accountable.

It's not very hard to see by all of the graffiti around Jonesboro that the criminal aspect of this is definitely there, and those responsible could be charged, but the new ordinance is taking a closer look at the civil aspect and who's responsible for really cleaning it up.

In fact, as currently drafted, the responsibility would fall on the property owner, but is there some legal issues with that?

City Attorney Phillip Crego is taking a closer look at considerations made in the ordinance including:  the definition of what is actually considered graffiti, whether or not the city could enter private property to clean up the markings, the use of public funds to do this work, and finally whether or not the city could charge the property owner the incurred fees.

He says all of these things are important and must be more closely examined.

"We are proceeding cautiously with it so we clear those items up before we actually propose it to the council, and then when it's enacted, try to enforce it," said Crego.

And erasing the marks of graffiti is something that does have to be taken care of, considering that in most cases the pictures paint a chilling story of growing gang activity.

"They put who did it. They will tell you what they are going to do. They have a certain person that particular gang is wanting killed. They are talking about whether they sell narcotics at that particular corner," said Cook.

That's a message that could slowly shed a bad and violent light on the city.

Again, we want to note that the ordinance is only in the drafting phase, and nothing has been put into law.

However, it is expected that the ordinance will eventually make its way to Jonesboro City Council.

It's also expected that a property owner would be given the option of cleaning up the graffiti before the city took any action to clean it up themselves.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com