Recent data suggests that New York City’s graffiti problem is getting worse. According to the NYPD, citywide graffiti complaints in 2015 were up 15 percent from last year. At the same time, arrests for graffiti are down 10 percent.
To put those figures into perspective, over 13,000 graffiti complaints were reported via 311 this year — about 36 per day. And this year, 2,497 taggers were arrested, compared to 2,772 over the same period in 2014, and 3,598 in 2013.
Mayor De Blasio downplayed the figures in an interview with CBS2.
“We take graffiti very, very seriously. Some of those statistics are very much of the moment and shouldn’t be overweighted,” he said.
Many New Yorkers notice a difference from the days of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s aggressive Anti-Graffiti Task Force, launched via executive order. A joint initiative undertaken by the Mayor’s Office and Police Department, efforts were carried out through 15 City agencies, including the Department of Consumer Affairs, Housing Authority and Department of Probation.
Mayor Bloomberg carried on the anti-graffiti work as part of a larger Citywide Vandals Task Force.
Despite the new data indicating a rise in graffiti reports, a 2014 article published by The Guardian suggested that the City has not “gone soft” under Mayor De Blasio. One street art tour guide told the paper that new residents in gentrified communities may be more likely to report graffiti on their buildings.
The City has a number of anti-graffiti initiatives. Besides maintaining legislation that punishes taggers with fines and a conviction for “criminal mischief,” sanctioned mural projects discourage rogue tagging and the City has detailed processes for reporting graffiti.