When I moved to Tucson eight years ago, I fell in love with the expansiveness of the desert and charm of the city. I thought all the roads were paved smooth and devoid of potholes. I believed there was no poverty and no questionable areas of town. Tucson seemed a utopia of beauty and good will because that’s what I wanted to see. Perhaps it was this newness to my surroundings that also allowed me to overlook the ugly scrawl of tagging and graffiti. That, and the fact that the incidence of these crimes has increased. Now no matter which direction you turn your head, you are going to see something that has been trashed. Road signs, walls, poles, sidewalks, even cars and motor homes bear the scars of this asinine act. The city of Tucson spends over a million dollars a year, almost 100 thousand dollars a month to cover up the ink. The culprits to thank for much of this senselessness may surprise you. The Gang Investigators Association reports, “Taggers tend to have risk-taking personalities, are in their late teens or early 20s, and tend to come from middle- or upper-income homes. They consider vandalizing public and private property with their art as a form of entertainment.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure the hard working people whose things have been defaced think it is hilarious. While I am all for reading, writing and self expression, this fails to qualify in any category. Tagging is a senseless way of ‘acting up’. It seems from researching the problem that all efforts to date have failed to even put a dent in the activity. I think perhaps it is time that we take more drastic measures to stop these criminals and hold them and/or their parents accountable for the financial devastation they have caused.
Our police department is already stretched thin and working their tails off. We can not continue to look to them to solve this problem, we need to bring in outside help. This idea may strike you as fodder or crazy but why not open up the job to bounty hunters? Bounty hunters are already assisting the criminal justice system by tracking down people that skip out on bail. They are trained and understand the risks involved in taking known felons into custody. It would not be out of their scope to cruise the streets after hours, work their way into the culture and break it down from within. Bounty hunters make a living by being able to out think their prey. Whether or not they would be allowed to make apprehensions or simply alert the cops could be predetermined. But by paying them for each tagger successfully booked into jail at least we would be getting them off the streets. The payout would be tied to actual results, not merely paying after the fact for clean up. And if the subject is a minor, let’s look at holding the parents accountable also. The taxpayers are not the ones that should be paying for this. The cleanup needs to be done by the ones committing the mess in the first place. Everyone I talk to is frustrated to have our lovely city defiled in such a manner. Bounty hunters may not be the answer, but as a community we need to come to some solution because it is all too clear to see that this problem is not going to go away on it’s on.