Denver police precinct 414 is “graffiti central,” says the Rocky Mountain News. It’s on stop signs, front porches, alleyways, even rooftops. Some 14 “tag crews” prowl the southwest Denver neighborhood, spray paint in hand, ready to announce themselves and the gangs many of them represent. When the city helps property owners paint over the graffiti, the crews return, sometimes within hours. Police believe that the omnipresent graffiti sends homeowners a simple, but potent, message: They are not safe.
Rudy Sandoval, commander of District 4, has the task of trying to get a grip on 414, somehow tackling both the graffiti and more serious crime. The precinct, which covers a neighborhood called Westwood, is now getting what the News calls “a heavy dose of medicinal policing.” Two police units called SCAT – Special Crime Attack Teams – have begun blanketing the area, pulling over drivers for small infractions and rousting bad guys. It’s a test of the “broken windows” theory on how to clean up neighborhoods.