Your Sheriff's Office works to combat graffiti and tagging in several ways. We want you, as citizens, to know how to best react when the ugly spray paint or giant black felt pen marks appear in your neighborhood.
Report Graffiti and Property Damage Right Away
Your first step is to report graffiti via the non-emergency dispatch line (503) 629-0111. Be ready to provide the address, a description of the damage, specific location information (on the white fence, on the bus stop bench and walls, etc.), and any possible suspect information. Report it even if you do not have suspect information. A deputy will be dispatched to survey the surrounding area and to take your report.
Your Sheriff's Office has one deputy dedicated to tracking graffiti. When a suspect is identified in one case, he also works to hold that individual accountable for other similar crimes in the same areas as appropriate. Your call to non-emergency dispatch is the key to starting this process.
Remove it Quickly
Please take pictures of the damage and then take immediate steps to clean up the damage.
Gangs use graffiti to communicate with other gangs. By removing the graffiti quickly, property owners can render these messages ineffective. The best way to discourage graffiti is to remove it quickly, normally within 24-48 hours.
A Washington County ordinance requires removal within 14 days in areas outside the cities. In addition, some cities in our county also have ordinances that require cleanup within a certain time period. To find out if an ordinance is in effect in your city, you can contact the city attorney, chief of police or the mayor's office.
Inmate Work Crews May Help Remove Graffiti for Vulnerable Victims
There are times when taggers may heavily mark a given neighborhood or when the property of a disabled person may be victimized who cannot remove or repair the damage due to financial or physical limitations. Your Sheriff's Office recognizes such circumstances and may be able to offer assistance with graffiti eradication or removal. This is not our primary mission, but it does affect the livability of the communities we serve.
For these projects, inmates of the Washington County Jail are put to work to repair the damage. The Washington County Jail works in tandem with patrol deputies on a Graffiti Eradication Program. This program puts inmates to work in removing gang graffiti and tagging from property in our community. Our Graffiti Eradication Program began in 1995 and received national recognition by the National Association of Counties.
Please recognize that cleanup projects require the permission of the property owner and occupant. Because the Sheriff's Office cannot guarantee exact paint matches, many property owners prefer to the do the cleanup themselves. Some local cities and organizations such as Verizon and Tri-Met have elected to resolve these issues themselves and have asked the Sheriff's Office to refrain from graffiti clean up on their properties. Reports of graffiti on property belonging to these organizations should be made to them directly.
Local Businesses May Provide Cleanup Supplies
Please join us in combating gang activity in your area. If you find graffiti in your neighborhood or business district, know that you have a lot of support. Local businesses and landlords often donate paint and needed equipment to rid their areas of graffiti. Our web site offers links to additional information that can assist you in the process as well. In addition, our Graffiti Eradication Program Coordinator is also willing to help answer your questions and to help determine whether your project qualifies for assistance from our program. If you qualify for the Graffiti Eradication Program assistance, you will need to sign and return this agreement.