Denver Graffiti Cams Haven't Resulted In Single Arrest

Stakeout Techniques More Effective

Four months ago, Denver became the first major metropolitan city in the nation to install anti-graffiti cams to try to cut down on the amount of graffiti.

Officials now admit the cameras haven't resulted in a single arrest, attributing the lack of results to staffing and operational problems.

"So you've got to keep in mind this is a beta test. So these cameras are rolled out and given to us for a testing purpose. And uh, we 're working hand in hand with the company and it takes some time. So with any new technology, as you all know, there's glitches," Sgt. Ernie Martinez said.

Most of the time since November has been spent training 50 officers on the use of the motion-sensitive devices. They've only been used on the street over the past six weeks.

During that time two arrests have been made but not because of the new tagging "eyes".

"(We) utilized old-fashioned police stakeout techniques. So, you know you have that to run in concert with this new technology and you essentially have a force multiplier that gives you the results that you want," said Martinez, who is project manager for the police department.

"Well it would be nice if they were putting out a little bit better results but I'm in favor of graffiti cams. I guess if they're inconspicuous where, you know, the kids don't walk up and see them right away and just keep on going maybe they might have better results," said Phillip Gunn, a local business owner.

The eight cameras didn't cost taxpayers anything. They were offered free by the North Carolina manufacturer as a test project with no deadline.

A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said Mayor John Hickenlooper is still optimistic the cameras will prove effective in reducing and catching taggers.

At the time the cameras were announced, officials claimed they would put a dent in graffiti tagging.

"If you are a tagger in the city of Denver, you're going to get caught," said Paul Feldman, president and chief executive officer of Law Enforcement Associates. "That is what this technology does."

Denver spends about $1 million each year cleaning up the scribbles, signs and symbols left on darkened walls, fences and trash bins. And that figure does not account for the money spent by residents and business owners.

So far, city staffers say graffiti removal is up dramatically for 2008.

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