Graffiti a main topic at community outreach meeting - Tucson News Now

Graffiti a main topic at community outreach meeting

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson Police Department's Operations Division South held it's first meeting tonight where officers heard from business and community leaders about issues in their area.

The ODS boundaries include Irvington south to Los Reales, then Kino east to Alvernon, with some areas stretching beyond those points.

A spokesperson for TPD says various patrol divisions used to hold outreach meetings on a regular basis, but some business and community leaders stopped showing up.  Now officers will be meeting with new leaders and new business reps including Curacao, Wal-Mart, and Costco.

Other divisions plan to revive their outreach meetings as well. 

In a letter addressed to the community, Capt. Ramon Batista writes "Our goal is to open our lines of communication through direct contact with our community; my hope is that we can work together to improve quality of life issues for everyone."

At the meeting, a main topic of discussion was how graffiti is a continuous issue that has neighborhood groups asking police officers to stop.

Captain Ramon Batista says he and his south side division are working on this problem. He and officers go out with  community groups to spray the graffiti and paint over it.

But Batista also did something very unique. Last year, he assigned one officer to learn how to read graffiti, find out who's doing it and make the arrests. He says the officer has been successful.

"She has figured out how to read the graffiti. She's figured out where the sources are, and in some cases you're talking about 13-year-olds, 15-year-olds, but then you're also seeing some 30- year-olds," Capt. Batista said.

Captain Batista says he has fewer officers on patrol than he did in years past. But working with the community helps them target specific issues.

There are five other patrol divisions that are working on starting their own advisory committees.

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