After a spate of police-targeted graffiti tags were found on North Bellmore School District property last week, Town of Hempstead officials gathered at Newbridge Road Elementary School on Monday to condemn the act and announce a doubling of fines for the crime.
The tags — one of which read, “Kill all cops” — were discovered on a district-owned garage by an employee on July 21. Nassau County Police Department detectives discovered similar graffiti markings at six other locations near the school, including on buildings, vehicles and fences.
Town Board members pledged to introduce legislation at an upcoming board meeting that would increase the current penalty of $5,000 to $10,000 for each building, structure or surface where graffiti is found. Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Chris Carini will also co-chair a Graffiti Watch Task Force, which will have community volunteers identify, report and facilitate the removal of graffiti.
Residents can also send graffiti sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who spot graffiti vandalism in the act are encouraged to call 911.
“Graffiti is not art, it is vandalism,” Clavin said. “This is targeted hate at our law enforcement agencies who are here to protect us.”
“Graffiti destroys our suburban landscape and ruins the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Carini. “I’ve been battling graffiti in my area for a long time. As a former officer, I am appalled by some of the targeted graffiti.”
Clavin and Carini also called on state representatives to introduce legislation that would classify anti-police vandalism as a hate crime — an offense motivated by a bias. They argued that the tags encourage acts of violence against law enforcement officers by displaying two large photographs of recent graffiti sightings reading, “Kill all Police.”
The incident in North Bellmore is being investigated, according a NCPD spokesman. There are a number of security cameras in the area, recordings from which are being reviewed by police, Clavin said.
North Bellmore Superintendent Marie Testa said the district is working “in full cooperation” with NCPD, and the district will paint over the graffiti tags once detectives complete their investigation.
“We’ve had very little vandalism over the last few years, but when something like this does happen, we have absolutely prosecuted [the individuals] . . . to the fullest extent of the law,” Testa said. “This act of hatred targeting police officers is completely heinous, disgraceful and unacceptable, and does not reflect the core values of our district.”
Detectives ask that anyone with information contact the First Squad at (516) 573-6153 or Nassau County Crime Stoppers at (800) 244-TIPS. All