Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Newport limits tools for graffiti

Restrictions include paint, markers

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Those not wanting to risk arrest in Newport may soon need a good reason to be carrying a spray paint can, a permanent marker or other materials that could be used to create graffiti.

        The City Commission Monday unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance prohibiting possession of graffiti materials without consent and lawful purpose.

        “This was a recommendation of our gang unit,” Police Chief Tom Fromme told commissioners. “Our officers felt this would be a useful tool. We don't have any real gang activity, but we felt it was wise to be proactive in this area.”

        The ordinance prohibits possession of what is termed “graffiti materials commonly used for the defacing, damaging or destroying” of prop erty. Some of the items identified include cans of spray paint, broad-tipped permanent indelible marker pens, and glass cutting or etching tools.

        The offense is a Class B misdemeanor. The stipulations amend an ordinance that prohibits graffiti in any form, including writing, painting, inscription, drawing, or scratching on any wall or other surface.

        Commissioners also approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the existing curfew ordinance for minors, expanding it to include daylight school hours.

        “This was actually requested by the school system over a year ago, but we were waiting until we had the proper ordinance written by the city solicitor,” Mr. Fromme said. “The truancy law is not enforceable by our police officers. All we can do is contact the school's truant officer if we find a juvenile on the streets during school hours.”

        Under the revised ordinance, it is a curfew violation for anyone between the ages of 6 and 18 to remain in any public building or place, any commercial establishment or place of amusement/entertainment, or any street or highway in the city during the hours they should be in school. The exception is if they are with a parent or guardian, of if the minor is on an emergency errand directed by a parent or guardian.

        “This means anyone of school age who is not in school either because of illness, suspension or other reasons must remain at home or face arrest,” said Mike Schulkens, city attorney.

        Police now may take a child found violating the daytime curfew into custody. The minor may be taken to school or to the parent or guardian. First offense carries a $250 fine.


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