City of Knoxville Crews Battling Graffiti

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City of Knoxville Crews Battling Graffiti

Posted: 06/18/2014
June 18, 2014 - It might take a graffiti tagger just a few minutes to deface a public building or a wall.

It then takes a City of Knoxville Public Service Department crew several hours to undo the damage.

"We have a strategy, and it seems to be working, but it's expensive, and there are certainly better ways to spend taxpayer dollars than to repaint or clean off the sides of public buildings," said David Brace, Public Service Director for the City of Knoxville.

The City is partnering with other public sector entities - including the Public Building Authority, Knoxville Utilities Board and the Central Business Improvement District - to combat a rise in graffiti.

But Brace said help from residents and businesses is necessary. That means quickly reporting to the Knoxville Police Department any time taggers are seen defacing any property, and it also means owners doing their part to quickly remove graffiti on private property.

Immediate and persistent removal of graffiti - within a day or two - is a vital key in discouraging taggers.



"It is critical that we consistently clean damaged public property and work with the Knoxville Police Department to prevent graffiti in the future," Brace said. "For the private sector, graffiti is an expensive and unfortunate part of managing property.

"We understand it's frustrating to have to spend time and money cleaning up damaged signs and buildings from spray paint and markers, but that's really the best long-term solution."

Brace's crews have a new tool: The City recently purchased a new water-sand pressure washer with money from the CBID and the downtown capital improvements fund. The pressure washer was used to successfully remove graffiti from the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) downtown station (before and after photos attached).

Graffiti throughout Knoxville on both private and public assets is on the rise. The Knoxville Police Department believes this is an issue across the State of Tennessee – and that many of Knoxville's most visible taggers operate in multiple municipalities, making them tough to apprehend.

Graffiti contributes to declines in property value, and it generates the perception of blight. The appearance of graffiti on public and private buildings is often perceived by residents and visitors as a sign that a downward spiral has begun, even though this may not be true.

"Addressing this issue will require multiple tactics, including public awareness, education, law enforcement and finally a commitment by public sector entities to quickly clean tagged facilities," Brace said.

The City of Knoxville and the Knoxville Police Department are encouraging citizens to report incidents of graffiti by calling 311 for non-emergency events or 911 if property damage is actively in process.