By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville Police Department is working to cut back on graffiti and vandalism within the city.
For police, graffiti often represents more than just an eyesore.
“What we’re seeing now is more gang-related stuff. There are areas where you could say it’s just kids messing around, but for the most part it’s gang related,” Sgt. Mike Edwards said. “We’re more eager to get the gang-related tags off the walls, but all vandalism makes the community look bad.”
Once vandalism is reported, police take action to ensure it is removed as soon as possible.
SPD operates a work program for citizens who are unable to pay a fine owed to the city. Participants of the program work off their fine by picking up litter or, in this case, painting over graffiti.
“Graffiti is something that if it’s allowed to remain, it usually fosters more of it if it’s tolerated. Not all graffiti ... is sinister in nature. All of it is malicious, but some of it is gang-related. Some of it is simply tagging, as people call it. Some of it is just pure malicious mischief and vandalism,” Chief David Lindley said. “If you allow it to remain, it cascades and brings more.”
The police have made a few arrests related to graffiti recently. Those charged with vandalism can be ordered to pay a fine and restitution to the property owner.
“There were some band members around this past weekend that on their way out of town after their gig they decided the old electric department building on the end of Main Street was, I believe, they said ‘too clean,’ and they decided to tag it,” Lindley said.
The band members were arrested and charged with malicious mischief along with possession of marijuana.
Edwards said any incidence of vandalism should be reported to the police. To report vandalism or any other crime, contact SPD at 662-323-4131.
Section editor Nathan Gregory contributed to this report.