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Reducing Park Vandalism

NCJ Number
J Howley
Date Published
59 pages
Intended for local governments in North and South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, this report outlines methods of preventing vandalism in public parks as well as techniques to make park equipment more resistant to vandalism.
Vandalism of public parks costs taxpayers money, mars a community's image, and decreases real estate values. Parks and recreation departments nationally are finding that as much as 30 percent of their maintenance budget goes to vandalism repairs and cleanup. This report emphasizes preventive strategies to deal with vandalism, beginning with community involvement in planning a program and recommending ordinances, such as antigraffiti and parental responsibility laws. Rewards for tips leading to the arrest of vandals, park patrols, and outreach programs to involve youth in park activities are also suggested. Sensible planning and thoughtful designs that consider the needs of the surrounding neighborhood can reduce avoidable damage and improve community concern for park facilities. Proper maintenance of facilities and equipment and prompt repair or replacement of damaged items is a proven approach to reducing further abuse. A successful prevention effort requires public visibility and an educational component for the prospective vandal. While a community's first line of defense should be an aggressive vandalism prevention program, moderate target hardening measures are needed. Techniques considered include alternatives to glass windows, paints which allow easy removal of graffiti, and lighting. The appendixes contain descriptions of several community prevention programs, an annotated list of films for general and juvenile audiences, and technical information on target hardening devices. (Author abstract modified)