The Gateway Crimes Task Force is working to stabilize and improve Kansas City’s neighborhoods by addressing activities that are considered gateways to greater criminal involvement. The Task Force is comprised of representatives from law enforcement agencies, the court system, school districts, neighborhood leaders, social service agencies, City Council members and City staff.
Dealing with Graffiti
|The Kansas City, Mo., Police Department Gang Squad investigates graffiti within the City. If you see an act of graffiti vandalism in progress, call 911 immediately. You may report anonymous tips about graffiti vandals to TIPS Hotlines 816-474-TIPS (8477).|
If your property is tagged, it’s recommended that you remove graffiti immediately after photographing it, get an estimate to restore the tagged area and prosecute the suspect(s). Graffiti observed on City-owned or other private property, should be reported to the City’s 3-1-1 Action Center by calling 3-1-1 or 816-513-1313, or
|Neighborhoods that ignore graffiti send a message of apathy or intimidation. Neighborhood communities can adopt strategies to help reduce the incidence of graffiti. |
- Programs that adopt graffiti-free streets or areas ask volunteers and businesses to keep areas they have “adopted” graffiti-free. Such programs improve awareness and engage citizens in graffiti prevention and removal.
- Neighborhood paint-out initiatives involve residents, businesses, schools and others in an effort to improve the appearance of the local area. This instills community pride and responsibility for the future. Paint-outs are also good family projects as they teach children about the impact of graffiti on the neighborhood and give parents a forum to discuss graffiti and vandalism with their children.
- Block watch programs focused on graffiti can be established for businesses or residential areas.
- Printing and distributing graffiti prevention messages on bags, sales flyers, tray liners, book covers, calendars and other promotional items rallies neighborhoods and sends a clear message to taggers.
Mural programs and constructive engagement with graffiti artists can channel creative energy towards community betterment. In recognition of this, the City’s public arts administration is actively working to create and foster such engagement.
Just as graffiti can lessen the spirit in a neighborhood, empowering residents to remove and combat it, can elevate the neighborhood’s spirit. There are initiatives in place to help in this area.
- The City’s Neighborhoods and Housing Department is contracting with a number of organizations to facilitate graffiti removal in various public and private situations. As contracts are put in place, a list of organizations will be available.
- Graffiti removal equipment and chemicals are available to recognized neighborhood groups. A program that makes paint available to recognized neighborhood groups can expedite covering offensive graffiti.
- Paint for covering graffiti is available to recognized neighborhood groups at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
- Training on how to remove graffiti, while coordinating with Police and Public Works staff is available.
Types of Graffiti
Understanding the motives behind graffiti helps the community understand what is being confronted and minimize the negative impacts on neighborhood stability. There are three basic forms of graffiti in Kansas City; most is not connected to violent gangs.
|Artistic graffiti |
|Artistic graffiti takes hours to complete and is usually created with the owner of the property’s permission. For such work, artists prefer the walls of a building or similar sites to express their talents. Work of this style can be seen at Children’s Mercy Hospital and is not associated with violent drug street gangs.|
|Tagger graffiti |
|Tagger graffiti is the work of vandals who prefer to be called graffiti writers. Graffiti writers gain recognition and status from their peers by placing distinctive tags in as many places as possible, the most high-risk places and by its artisticness. Many post images of their work on social network sites for peers to view. Graffiti writers usually respect each other’s tags. This type of graffiti is the most prevalent in Kansas City and is not related to violent drug gangs.|
|Gang-related graffiti |
|Gang-related graffiti often identifies turf or tells a story of what has happened or is about to. Such graffiti may spell out a gang name, a list of gang nicknames, or use a numeric identifier. Graffiti communicates many messages, as a bulletin board for gangs. Numbers are significant to gangs. The number 187 represents the California Penal Code for homicide. Graffiti using 187 is associated with a death threat. For Hispanic gangs from southern California, the number 13 represents “M,” the 13th letter in the alphabet. M is short for Eme, or the Mexican Mafia. Gangs from northern California may use the number 14, which stands for “N,” the 14th letter of the alphabet. Gang graffiti often has cross-outs and tag over’s, to send a message to others. |