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Alderman Tony Zielinski Leads the Way in Battle Against Graffiti in Milwaukee

Staying tough on crime, the Common Council's Public Safety Committee voted in May to go forward with spending $28,000 to buy 12 "tripwire" cameras that will be used to help catch graffiti vandals. Ald. Zielinski, the primary sponsor of the legislation and chair of the Anti-Graffiti Policy Committee, said the money for the cameras will come from the Common Council's contingent fund, and that the cameras should have an immediate and significant impact on graffiti vandalism in the city.

"These cameras can be mounted strategically in areas that are likely targets or near places that have been hit before, and the images they capture can be sent directly to a computer, a cell phone or a vehicle," the alderman said.

Most graffiti vandals or "taggers" commit their crimes in the late-night or early morning hours, under the cover of darkness and with no witnesses. The cameras are designed to generate images almost immediately after being triggered by heat or motion detected along a perimeter – hence the term "tripwire" is used when describing them.

According to Ald. Zielinski, the cameras are well worth the investment. "Last year 5,000 calls came into the anti-graffiti hotline, and the cost of removing graffiti in the city is about $1.5 million per year. Apprehension of perpetrators is one of the best ways to eliminate graffiti. Constantly abating graffiti and having the vandal return is not winning the battle to maintain our neighborhoods."


Ald. Zielinski, chair of the city's Anti-Graffiti Policy Committee, spoke during a spring 2007 news conference at City Hall kicking off the city's annual anti-graffiti efforts. Joining the alderman at the event were city officials and students and teachers from Guadalupe School, who are providing the poster artwork for this year's campaign.