Contact: Joe Vargo, Perris Public Information Officer
Phone: 951-956-2120

Perris has a new weapon in its continuing battle with graffiti

Juan Lemus & Mayor

Maintenance crew leader Arturo Garcia, pictured at Frank Eaton Park, said cameras have cut down on reports of graffiti at the location.

A new system that makes use of motion detectors, state-of-the-art night vision cameras, global positioning system technology and a criminal data base monitored by law enforcement is being credited with significantly reducing episodes of graffiti and vandalism in several community parks.
It won’t eliminate graffiti completely. Nothing can.
And Perris continues to take its hits like every other city in Southern California.

In the first week of October, public works crews responded to about 100 complaints of graffiti on stop signs, shopping center walls and other public places.

But that’s just half the number of weekly complaints before Perris stepped up its efforts against graffiti and vandalism about three months ago.
Perris officials know fighting vandalism is a serious challenge that takes a serious and ongoing commitment. The recent success is only an incremental step in the constant battle against vandalism.  They promise to continue their efforts to reduce vandalism, prosecute those responsible and do their utmost to give Perris residents the clean and safe parks they deserve.  

“Having the city’s parks looking good is something that can’t be measured in dollars,” said Public Works Manager Daryl Hartwill. “We certainly expect the system will pay off.”

Juan Lemus & Mayor

Close up of the camera mounted on a light pole at
Frank Eaton Park.

Hartwill said the new system works like this: Cameras equipped with motion detectors are installed on light posts or other locations at municipal parks and shopping centers where they possess a panoramic view of the ground below. When the detectors sense the presence of someone loitering near a lavatory or park wall, they give a verbal warning: You have been spotted. If you break the law, you’re picture will be snapped and forwarded to authorities for prosecution.

That’s often enough to discourage would-be vandals.

The city employs further action for those who choose to scrawl on walls or commit other vandalism. Public works crews respond to the scene the next morning and take photos of the graffiti tags with city-owned digital cameras.

The cameras come with global positioning technology so there is absolutely no doubt where the image was captured and where the graffiti took place, Hartwill said. That information is analyzed by photo experts entered into a data base kept by law enforcement. Since graffiti taggers often leave their signs at dozens or hundreds of locations, the locations and images can be used to prosecute taggers for multiple offenses if they are caught and convicted. If their crimes cost more than $400 to repair, they can be charged with a felony.

Hartwill, who came to Perris from graffiti-plagued Pico Rivera in Los Angeles County, said some big-city taggers cost taxpayers more than $100,000 to clean up their damages.  The new system costs about $33,000, including the price of the cameras. The cameras have been especially good at preventing vandals from breaking sprinkler heads at Morgan Park while their presence at other locations keeps graffiti taggers in check.

While no system or no amount of money will wipe out all graffiti, Hartwill said he believes the price Perris has invested to curtail vandalism has been well worth it.

At municipal parks—like Morgan Sky Dive, Eaton and Rotary—and business centers like the Perris Crossing Shopping Mall where the cameras have been installed, incidences of vandalism are becoming less common.

“It sure makes my job easier,” said Arturo Garcia, Maintenance Crew Leader. “It is a great, great deterrence to graffiti. Perris residents can be proud of the work the city is doing to keep their parks clean and safe. People who want to commit crimes at parks are being forced to think twice.”

City officials are working with Perris police and school resource officers in middle and high schools to further identify and discourage potential taggers, who often leave their signs on notebooks and inside lockers. If they can’t be persuaded, they will be prosecuted.