Graffiti is increasing across Wichita. The number of incidents worked by police jumped from 374 in 2006 to 607 last year.
Backed by those figures, plus the nearly $300,000 it cost for the city's Public Works Department to remove graffiti in 2009, police asked the City Council to expand Wichita's graffiti ordinance on Tuesday.
The proposal defines "graffiti implements" going well beyond cans of spray paint to include such things as broad-tipped markers and brushes.
It would be illegal for anyone to possess a graffiti implement within 100 feet of a wide range of places, such as a public facility, park, underpass or storm drain.
It also would be illegal for anyone under 18 to possess graffiti tools on school property or within 100 feet of private property without written permission.
"I have a problem with that," council member Paul Gray said. "Not everyone buying spray paint is going to be a hoodlum."
He noted that his 4-year-old child might need to carry some of the items on the implement list to school for projects.
"But is your 4-year-old going to be stopped at 2 a.m. after we get a report of graffiti?" asked police Lt. Heather Bachman. "I would hope not."
She said officers will take extra steps to see why a person has the implements and use common sense.
"If the implements are in the backpack full of school books," Bachman said, "I don't know any officer who's going to arrest them."
Gray said, "But by law you are breaking the law if you take those things to school."
Bachman noted the proposal specifically states it doesn't apply to minors possessing felt-tip markers for school use.
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