Fayette County graffiti removal program helps police track gang activity

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Police say a program that removes graffiti from buildings and structures around the city is also helping them keep tabs on gang activity.

For the last nine years the Fayette County Sheriff's Department has been of charge of the program that helps wipe away graffiti in Lexington.

The department estimates the program has removed 500,000 pieces of graffiti across the city.

But before that paint is painted over pictures are taken of each of those pieces.

"We monitor who the potential suspects are, what the graffiti may mean, and what kind of impact it may have on things we're looking into," said Sgt. Todd Phillips with Lexington Police.

The sheriff's department shares the information about the "tags" with the police department. They say covering up that gang graffiti is a big help.

"Within the gang world a lot of times if they do graffiti and somebody shows disrespect it's a way for them to talk back and forth, kind of probing at each other to create an environment that's potentially going to led to violence," Phillips said.

The cost to the city is almost nothing. The labor is provided by trustees of the Fayette County Jail.

"You've got a trustee that is out working in the community, supervised, as opposed to sitting in the jail watching TV all day," said Chief Deputy Jay Pittman with the sheriff's department.

And the supplies are donated by Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity.

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