Graffiti Abatement Unit wraps up first successful season

Members of the Graffiti Abatement Program work Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis neighborhoods are safer compared to the beginning of summer, thanks to graffiti removal, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The flagship season for the Graffiti Abatement Unit wrapped up Thursday.

Crews ceremonially cleaned off the final house of the season.

Crews scrubbed 16,000 square feet of graffiti from Indianapolis homes this summer.

“The power washer comes along and it sprays right off,” program director Lori White said.

The DPS Graffiti Abatement Unit was formed to reduce crime in neighborhoods and increase property values.

“We feel like it was a very successful program,” White said.

The crews cleaned up 214 homes that either had residents who couldn’t remove it themselves or properties that were abandoned.

White said police tell her so far none of the graffiti removed has been reapplied.

“It looks like we have had an impact in reducing crime, the type of nuisance crime that can lead to bigger things in a community,” she said.

White said the program is also making an impact in the lives of the crew members.

“They are men and women who have been in prison and they are trying to reenter into society,” she said, “They have paid their debt and so we are helping them with a hand up instead of a hand out.”

The eight people who removed graffiti this summer were hired through RecycleForce.

RecycleForce President Gregg Keesling said this is a great training opportunity for them.

“They’re learning up to 16 different OSHA certifications that are pretty common in the manufacturing, logistics and environmental cleanup work,” he said.

He also believes this particular assignment is a metaphor for their lives.

“People who have committed crimes have damaged their community, and this is part of that retribution to come back and repair that damage,” he said.

White said she will be meeting soon with all the other agencies involved to find out how to make this happen again next year.

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