Los Angeles city officials led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched a new graffiti tracking system today designed to analyze and categorize tagging scrawls captured on camera by graffiti-removal crews armed with smart phones.
Called "Tracking Automated Graffiti System" (TAGRS), the system relies on cell phones equipped with cameras and global-positioning devices to document and track graffiti scrawls, which, like handwriting, have unique "signatures." The system also allows law enforcement agencies as well as transit agencies such as the MTA to share data across L.A. County, thereby enabling them to to collect evidence against taggers and prosecute the culprits.
Mayor Villaraigosa, accompanied by , L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and officials from the LAPD and the Sheriff's Department, launched the new program at a media-studded event at the Hollenbeck Police Station on First Street downtown.
The LAPD's Gang and Narcotics Division, along with the Graffiti Task Force, will provide administrative oversight, training and support to TAGRS personnel, who will receive data from private contractors engaged in removing graffiti, according to a "fact sheet" distributed at the March 4 event.
The initiative follows the approval of a 2008 motion that Huizar introduced in the City Council, instructing the LAPD to report on the feasibility of a graffiti tracking system that had been employed in Orange County and in the City of Pico Rivera with great success. Los Angeles spends around $10 million every year on graffiti removal.