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Chief Bratton Can Build on Valley Graffiti Effort

October 30, 2002

Re "Bratton Is Planning a Clean Start," Oct. 25: I am an L.A. County Superior Court commissioner, assigned to the Sylmar Juvenile Court. It was our court that created the first anti-graffiti hotline. We are certainly behind LAPD Chief William Bratton in his task.

At the Juvenile Court, we have been involved in the close supervision of graffiti taggers for quite some time now. We place a serious emphasis on keeping the neighborhoods we serve and the people in those neighborhoods aware of tagging activity. We were involved when the Community Tagger Task Force was created and implemented in the San Fernando Valley.

The task force works closely with the community groups in the Valley that gather information and photograph vandalism and place it in a database. The Probation Department assigned a special "tagger" supervision officer to us who keeps track of the vandals under our supervision. It is not always easy to coordinate all the different factions of any big department, especially when we're dealing with city, county and state agencies, but the task force has successfully managed to gather information on tagging crews and gang activity and, we hope, prevent some individuals from being hurt or suffering property damage.

As to the comment about the Graffiti Habitual Offender Suppression Team, I am amazed at the lack of information provided to the chief. The GHOST squad was an invention of then-Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Chief Sharon Papa, now with the LAPD. The GHOST squad worked undercover throughout the public transportation system to apprehend vandals who cost the MTA millions of dollars. It was quite successful.

Jack J. Gold

Sylmar Juvenile Court

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