Local Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to the Special Problems Unit of the Transit Services Bureau have a special reason to be proud today, as their unit received the Thomson Reuters Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police at their annual banquet in Chicago.
These awards recognize quality achievement and innovation in managing and conducting criminal investigations, with the goal of sharing information to advance the art and science of criminal investigations. The Transit Services SPU Team was notified in June of this year that they were one of 21 finalists. After a vetting process, they were notified that they were one of three award recipients.
In 2003, when LASD Metro Transit Services Bureau was awarded the entire policing contract for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it became clear that there was a need for a specialized unit within TSB to deal with the detailed and complex investigations into the property crimes that were already plaguing the MTA, and costing Metro hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs to their buses, trains, and properties. The SPU Team was developed to handle those investigations.
Since then, the team has become innovators in the area of vandalism investigations and have shared their knowledge and expertise both within the Sheriff’s Department and with other police agencies dealing with the same graffiti tagger and tagging crew problems.
In April of 2010, the SPU Team hosted a Graffiti Symposium, where over 240 investigators met to exchange investigative methods and hear from industry experts in the field of vandalism investigations.
Understanding the personnel constraints on most agencies, the TSB SPU Team has devised investigative techniques which are effective and efficient. In 2010, when Orange County Law Enforcement introduced the Tracking and Automated Graffiti Reporting System, TAGRS for short, the SPU Team knew they would be able to implement this database as part of their intelligence program.
This information sharing has led to the arrest of many vandals and their associates, who may never have been identified if not for the innovative and cutting edge investigations of the TSB SPU Team.
The SPU Team has developed close investigative ties with the LA County D.A.’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, and many other prosecuting agencies. The LA City Attorney’s Office was so interested in putting a stop to the vandals who cost taxpayers and property owners millions of dollars each year, that they began writing the first “Tagger” injunction in the county. This injunction, which is similar to the gang injunctions secured by several southland law enforcement agencies, makes it a crime for convicted felony vandals to even be in the company of other convicted taggers.
The TSB SPU Team consists of approximately thirty sworn personnel who work closely with Crime Analysts and other staff to track vandalism trends and stay a step ahead of the taggers and their crews.
For more information about what the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and partnering police agencies are doing to combat graffiti vandalism, visit:
LA’s Most Wanted Taggers
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Report graffiti vandalism and information about graffiti vandals to your local sheriff’s station or police department in order to have the damages documented, investigated, and added to the tracking databases. To remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org
To Have Graffiti Removed:
In the City of Santa Clarita, call 661-25-CLEAN
Graffiti Reporting and Removal Hotline at (800) 675-4357
For graffiti removal in the unincorporated areas of the Los Angeles County, contact the LA County Dept. of Public Works hotline at (800) 675-4357. The graffiti removal hotline is available with live operators 24 hours a day seven days a week. The LACoDPW strives for a 48-hour response when calls are received via the hotline. In order to have a response in a timely manner, please answer the brief questions the operators may ask you. Often questions may be related to graffiti on property which is not the responsibility of the County of Los Angeles. For example, information is offered for the agency providing graffiti removal services to the following: Parks and Recreation, Caltrans, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Metrolink, United States Post Office, Southern California Edison, and the 88 Cities within the County of Los Angeles.