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Penalize the victim?
In the Oct. 21, 2009, issue of “The Arlington Times” there is a front-page story regarding “Graffiti and public perception.” In this article, it states that the new Arlington Police Chief has recommended a new ordinance that would fine property owners $100 per day for graffiti left unabated on their properties. The Arlington City Council approved the measure on October 5, 2009.
I wonder if these community leaders understand who the offender is and who the victims are in these cases. Since when do reasonable people penalize the victims for being a victim? How can this ordinance deter “gangs” from infiltrating the Arlington area? Like the Council thinks these gangs will follow some kind of rules or something? If 35 percent of the graffiti is gang related and they come from outside the city, what makes our leadership think that this will have any effect on their activities. The railroad I-5 overpass between Smokey Point and Marysville is a prime example. How long did it take after all the graffiti was removed before it was back? Maybe national studies do show that removing graffiti within 24-48 hours after it has been placed is a major deterrent, but is that the case when 65 percent of it is not gang related?
Maybe the astute City Council should establish a list of fines for victims of other crimes; like the tandem dump trucks roaring down the 172nd Street hill with their exhaust brakes in full effect from 5:30 a.m. and all morning long, even though there are speed limit signs and a sign stating the use of exhaust brakes is prohibited. Should the property owners facing 172nd Street be fined? Should citizens who report theft also be fined for not securing their property correctly? Should every domestic violence report carry a fine to those identified as the victim and be assessed on a daily basis until they “clean up their act?” This just might be a source of new revenue for the city. Granted these suggestions are just as ridiculous as this new ordinance. What happens if graffiti is placed on a city building? Will the same rules apply? Moreover, who is going to start the clock running?
If the city really wants to keep graffiti off of our structures and keep gangs away, try better enforcement. The word of continual surveillance will spread quickly and the threat of arrest is the real deterrent.
Marysville sees the need for action as well; however, their approach is a little different. The Daily Herald (10/21/09) reports Marysville officials are drafting a grant to help offset the costs to business owners. The cost to property owners in this case is different from graffiti, but it is still an unfortunate situation to which our citizens have been placed. Instead of placing the burden of repairing damage on the property owners, let’s be good neighbors and help them clean up the mess.
I would like to thank the Arlington City Council for this action; however, as it seems to me that the establishment of this ordinance is a simple case of, what did one council member state, “people are just a bunch of sheep?” You have made it very easy to decide whom I voted for on Nov. 3, and it was not be for any incumbent.
Dale W. Turnupseed