Graffiti Course an Asset to Charlottetown Investigation

Graffiti Investigation proved to be a positive asset for investigators who tackled graffiti crime in Charlottetown.

The escalation in the number of graffiti related complaints in the Charlottetown area in recent months prompted the Charlottetown Police Services (CPS) to assign two members to a dedicated investigation. Cst. Sean Coombs and Cst. Steve Gallant, experienced investigators in the CPS Street Crime Unit, began a comprehensive investigation of all graffiti files in late Spring. As a means of broadening their knowledge on graffiti-related crime, both participated in CPKN's Graffiti Investigation course.

"Ongoing training is essential to every officer's career," says Paul Smith, Chief of Charlottetown Police Services. "In this case, the graffiti course was a solid source of information that contributed to our members' existing experience and skills. It was a very worthwhile two hour investment."

Much of the investigation centered on the identification and arrest of a particularly prolific offender with the tag name, or signature, of 'Nova'. As the investigation continued, officers contacted Detective Constable Lee Jones of the Saskatoon Police Service (the course Subject Matter Expert) and Special Constable Craig Wright of the Toronto Transit Commission for an analysis of graffiti incidents from the Charlottetown area. Based on the study of submitted photographs, it was concluded that approximately 70% of those tags could be attributed to Nova.

A short time into the investigation, officers executed a search warrant on a city residence and arrested a 20-year-old man. That individual, believed to be Nova, is facing a series of charges which are presently before the courts. Two other unrelated arrests have also been made.

"The success of this case clearly demonstrates the value of CPKN training courses and the network behind those resources," says Chief Smith. "CPKN not only provides an opportunity to expand on officers' baseline knowledge on a wide range of subject areas, but also presents a direct line of contact to experts in those fields. That sharing of information and experience played a key role in our investigation."

Graffiti crime is a problem for communities, rural and urban, around the globe. And though seemingly benign, the cumulative impact of graffiti on a community is much more threatening: it damages property, reduces property values, undermines the sense of security and safety, and generates an undesirable impression among residents and visitors alike. Though it is unlikely that police will ever be able to eradicate this type of vandalism, for now, Charlottetown city police have certainly made their mark.