LAPD use computers and smartphones to fight graffiti

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Graffiti is seen on a sign near a new townhouse construction site March 3, 2009 in Compton, California.

Los Angeles is deploying smartphones and computers in the fight against graffiti. Officials unveiled a new initiative Friday that allows work crews to track the most prolific taggers with the technology.

The program is called a Tracking Automated Graffiti System, or TAGRS for short. Graffiti cleanup crews use a smartphone app to snap a shot of freshly spray-painted walls and traffic signs.

Then they upload the photos to a centralized database where investigators link it to similar tags. When a vandal is caught in the act, law enforcement uses the database to call up all other tags associated with that suspect and build a stronger prosecution.

Councilman Jose Huizar says the city of LA spends $10 million a year cleaning up graffiti. He maintains that this program could cut costs in the long run.

“You see because we know that it is a small number of people who cause the majority of the graffiti," says Huizar. "So that if we go after those who are causing a majority of the graffiti, we will go a long way to eradicating graffiti and saving the money that it takes for us to actually take it down.”

The TAGR system is based on technology the Orange County Sheriff’s Department developed. Officials there reported that in the first year they used the technology, graffiti dropped by 40 percent.

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