Each year, over 1,000 complaints of graffiti-related vandalism are made in Springfield. This year over 700 incidents have been reported so far according to police. Graffiti artist also knows as taggers have even spray painted historic buildings like the old State Theater.
The Springfield police department and county prosecutor's office are taking an aggressive approach to rid the city of the ongoing problem and help the city fight the defacement of public and private property.
County Prosecutor Andy Wilson has initiated a state-funded felony diversion program that gives offenders 20 hours of community service to clean up graffiti. He says the plan is working.
"The city of Springfield had a graffiti removal unit, but they didn't have anybody to operate it," says Wilson. "We had some grant money for this diversion program. We hired a part-time person to basically coordinate the program and he takes our diversioners who owe community service and they do their community service going through town and knocking down graffiti."
Chris Schutte of the Visitors and Convention Bureau, thinks the diversion program is the way to go.
"When they finally get these people that are doing it, they go out and they put them to work removing it. You know, what these guys want is they want attention. They tag a wall and the next morning that wall's been painted over already, that gives them no attention at all, so eventually they are going to give up. And I think you know, we've definitely done just about everything we can do," says Schutte.
Wilson says it costs thousands of dollars to tackle the graffiti problem each year, but the felony diversion program will help ease the costs to business and private property owners who need vandalism removed.