PARLEYS CANYON — Over the years, mainly high school students have made a tradition of repainting so-called "Suicide Rock" that juts from the floor of the mouth of Parleys Canyon.
But it's all of the other tagging and painting on the way to the rock that concerns police the most. Officers are up there all the time, and they see everything from murals and initials to vandalized trail signs, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.
Just as soon as workers clean it up, the vandals tag it again — and that means more work and more money to keep cleaning the same place regularly.
Hoyal said the foot and bicycle bridges leading to the Parleys Trail trailhead are regularly tagged and vandalized.
"It defaces the park and defaces the trailways," he said. "Those are areas that we are trying hard to keep nice so that citizens have a beautiful place to go walk, hike, ride their bikes and recreate."
People passing through the area can spot graffiti right away, along with plenty of evidence of cleanup efforts.
This week, there were signs that some of the graffiti in the area was relatively new. Flecks and drops of red paint lay scattered across the snow near a tag on a concrete wall.
There were also many beige-painted layers underneath the new graffiti — evidence that the same spot had been painted over as part of a cleanup effort not long ago.
"Our graffiti removal team goes up there frequently to remove graffiti because it continually happens," Hoyal said.
Nancy White is the graffiti removal program manager with the Unified Police Department. She urges anyone who spots graffiti to report it quickly on the graffiti hotline, 1-801-END-GRAF. If someone tags it again, report it again, she said. It may take two or three times before the vandal gives up and goes somewhere else.
Residents can organize a neighborhood program against graffiti. They divide the neighborhood into small areas and have a coordinator inspect the area for graffiti. If graffiti is found, they can mobilize a cleanup crew within 24 hours. Supplies are available at the Unified Police Department during regular business hours. More information can be found at www.slco.org/graffiti/supplyPickup.html.
White said studies show graffiti sends a message to criminals. "I think it says, ‘We don't care. We are not trying to keep our place clean and presentable,'" White said. "It has so much to do with property value."
Hoyal agreed. If criminals get the message that it's OK to cover the area with graffiti, he believes that more will add to the mess.
"We are up there, we are trying to keep it clean, and our officers are up there," the lieutenant said. "If people are caught spray painting where they are not supposed to, you are going to get charged."
Graffiti vandalism is a class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.