Cops are asking Gothamites to pipe up about graffiti in their neighborhoods — and join New York’s Finest to help clean it up, officials said Wednesday.
The department announced the launch of a new email address, Graffiti@nypd.org, where people can send information and photos of areas in need of urgent attention.
Clean-up days will be scheduled — the first on April 10 — where a team of community volunteers, members of the Law Enforcement Explorers Program, auxiliary police officers and cadets, as well as the Police Athletic League, Inc. will paint over the graffiti at specific locations.
Department officials announced the initiative Monday outside the graffiti-marred eyewear shop MOSCOT, at the corner of Orchard and Delancey streets on the Lower East Side.
“I think it’s apparent why we’re out here today,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “When you look around, it’s spring, we’re coming out of COVID, but New York City needs a little sprucing up today, so that’s what we aim to do.”
“We think it’s a great opportunity to continue to build trust and relationships in New York City,” he added. “So why not combine two things that we need. We need to work closer with the community…and we’re asking for something really simple: we need you help.”
The tips the NYPD receives will be assessed by precinct personnel and community leaders — with hate graffiti, or graffiti with offensive slogans or symbols, prioritized for cleanup.
Authorities will also closely examine and analyze graffiti considered to be made by gangs or crews, to mark territory or send warnings to rivals.
Typical “street graffiti,” consisting of so-called “tags” or “pieces,” will also be analyzed.
Regular “paint-ins” will be scheduled from April 10 moving forward, according to Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes, who added that “tons of paint” have been donated by community businesses. Police have not yet set any locations for the first event.
The NYPD received more than 6,000 complaints last year about public and private property damaged by graffiti amid the pandemic and in the wake of rioting that spawned from protests after George Floyd’s police-involved death in Minneapolis.
Complaints included paint damage, or etchings with drill bits, metal objects, sandpaper and other tools, according to the department.
“We do have a vandals task force team already in place…making sure that they’re out there engaging individuals that choose to dirty up the city,” said Rodney Harrison, who is beginning his new role as Chief of Department following Terence Monahan’s departure. “So it’s something that we take seriously…we have to juggle a lot of different balls, one of them being violence, but we also have to address minor things.”
While Shea acknowledged that the city is also dealing with violent crime issues, “this isn’t about statistics for me,” he said, adding that the plans for the graffiti initiative were in the works for months.
“I think we can see it,” he said. “It’s been a tough year, not just for New York City but across this whole country. This is about moving forward, it’s about the recovery, it’s about coming out together and cleaning up. That’s the big statement we want to make.”
“We’re going to clean up a lot of this graffiti that’s really just all over the neighborhood and making it look bad,” NYPD Chief of Community Affairs Jeffrey Maddrey added. “But really it gives us an opportunity to build that trust, establish and re-establish relationships and have fun together.”