One of the best ways people can combat the vandalism is paint over it right away

It seems odd to consider, but it appears that certain portions of Prineville have become somewhat of a battlefield where sides are armed with paint.

On one side, we have people who have chosen, for unknown reasons, to vandalize numerous places in our community with spray-painted graffiti. They have tagged the walls of local businesses, bridge footings along the scenic Ochoco Creek bike path and more. Their motives, it seems, are seeking attention and damaging public property.

On the other side are the people who have had enough of the attacks on public property and private businesses. Their weapon of choice is a gallon of white or light beige paint and rollers and brushes. What graffiti vandals deface in a matter of minutes or hours is covered over in a matter of minutes or seconds.

But no sooner are they covered over that the graffiti returns. And in an effort to continually discourage the behavior, the other group covers it up again.

Prineville's graffiti problem is certainly nothing new. The Crook County Parks and Recreation Department has been fighting it for years now, along with other acts of vandalism. Police have worked with the department to literally shine a light on the dark areas the vandals target and install cameras to catch them in the act.

They have enjoyed some success, but the problem persists.

Will more lights and cameras help? Maybe. But ask the parks district and police department what local citizens can do to help, and they will tell you without hesitation to paint over the graffiti as soon as possible and as often as is necessary.

Officer James Young, who has taken the lead on curbing graffiti in Prineville, encourages painting over the vandalism even if it seems like it gives the offenders a new canvas. He points out that some of the tags take hours to complete, and if they are gone the next day, all of their efforts are a waste. The assumption is, after a while, the vandals will get tired of essentially wasting their time.

He goes on to point out that if the graffiti goes untouched, would-be vandals will perhaps assume that there are no consequences, and their "artwork" will live on for weeks or months, if not longer. Simply put, graffiti begets more graffiti.

The group who has recently taken the battle to the graffiti vandals, Crook County 3 Percent (CC3), is about 30 strong, and so far, individuals and groups of people from the recently formed organization have gone to battle twice. They expect more outings will be necessary.

CC3 leaders have not necessarily asked for it, but the group could sure use some help. Covering graffiti quickly is key, and the more people who join the effort, the faster those tags are erased and treated as if they never existed.

Like any ongoing battle, strength is in numbers. Don't let the people defacing this community win. If you have the time, grab a brush and fight back.

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