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Southern California Voices / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY

Modest Proposal : 'Put Taggers' Drivers Licenses at Stake'

April 12, 1993|CYNTHIA A. CROTHERS | Mayor, City of Moreno Valley

Like every other city in California, Moreno Valley has been a "marked" town. Graffiti became a serious problem until city officials and the citizens declared war.

While we did most of the typical things, like removal programs, we also employed some notable innovations. Through a citizen volunteer partnership with our police force, dozens of young taggers have been apprehended, and we are seeking restitution from their families for the damages caused by their children. Today, Moreno Valley is clean, but I want to make sure it stays that way tomorrow.

Kids view tagging as a fad, something "cute" to do to gain public attention. I believe we need to get their attention. And cute ways, like talking to them, won't do it!

Here's an attention-grabber: Mess with their driving privileges. I'm convinced that any auto-addicted teen-ager would think twice (three times) before marking a wall if they knew that taggers' drivers licenses would be at stake.

State law already makes it possible to suspend the license of a teen convicted of tagging. I think the law should go a major step further. Convicted taggers under 16 should not be allowed to obtain a license until they turn 18 or 21.

Drastic? Perhaps. But we are dealing with extreme social problems that require drastic measures to get our young people's attention. I am not alone in my views. People I talk to agree that our state legislators and our prosecutorial agencies will have to work more aggressively and creatively to strengthen and enforce these laws.

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