CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA’s stepped-up war on graffiti continues, and officials believe it is yielding results.
Arrests have been at a rate three times higher than last year, and CTA President Forrest Claypool said that police and security are following up on arrests by going to court.
“CTA security and (Chicago Police) personnel have also attended court hearings as a team to illustrate to the court system the seriousness of these crimes,” he said. “As a result, in the past month, numerous court cases have resulted in guilty pleas and restitution to the CTA for damages.”
He said CTA also has field lawsuits in civil courts in some cases, seeking and receiving restitution.
Claypool said one man remains jailed without bond because of the severity of the damage for which he is charged.
It is not easy work, but Claypool said, through hundred of hours of video and photo study and investigations, police now can link specific tags to specific taggers. Stepped-up surveillance and video enforcement continues, along with saturation patrols on train lines prone to tagging.
“Tag CTA property and you will pay the price,” Claypool said, who called the degree of cooperation “incredible.”
Chicago Police Public Transportation Section Cmdr. Nancy Lipman concurred, calling the cooperation “phenomenal” and said her officers are aided by advanced technology that includes video surveillance, photos of taggers and photos of the specific graffiti with which they are associated.
“Some of our veteran officers…can see these videos right away they can name the person (responsible),” Lipman said. “We could only guess if we didn’t have the video and the photos of them. This way we know who they are. We can identify them and we can make those arrests much more quickly.”
She said that she and CTA Security Chief James Keating speak several times a day on average.
CTA’s newest series of ‘L’ cars are all security camera-equipped, and CTA recently completed installation of video cameras in all older ‘L’ cars except those slated for imminent retirement. All CTA buses have been fitted with video cameras for several years.
“Our entire fleet has these cameras now and we’re seeing the initial results,” Claypool said.
He said much of the latest graffiti has been inside of ‘L’ cars and buses instead of outside. He said additional cameras continue to be added, using U.S. Department of Homeland Security financing where possible, at other key locations on CTA property.