"Horribly pressed" is an understatement in the opinion of one anonymous staffer we spoke to, who says that on a force cut by almost one-third over the past decade, responding to thousands of reports each year, an officer focused solely on graffiti would be "a luxury." According to Lt. Bush, activity has slowed "quite a bit" since the cooler weather. But the vacancy left by a retirement earlier this year has been filled--Community Standards recently assigned a new detective to the graffiti effort.
So if the learned Justice Stewart couldn't characterize pornography, what about graffiti?
The city's website defines it as "any mark or marks on any surface or structure made without the prior permission of the property owner and made in any manner, including but not limited to, writing, inscribing, drawing, tagging, sketching, spray-painting, painting, etching, scratching, carving, engraving, scraping, or attaching."
"It's a fine line between art and tagging and graffiti," says Lt. Bush.
Ah. That fine line again.
As for gang-related markings, Lt. Bush says the only local instance she's seen was in Ypsilanti, and it was likely a "copycat" insignia--in this case that of the Los Angeles Crips.