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G-COP shows Canadians graffiti tactics – QNS.com

G-COP shows Canadians graffiti tactics

The 104th Precinct/Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP) has been battling graffiti in several areas of Queens for years, but recently G-COP officials had the opportunity to share their knowledge with officials from far outside of the city - Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Three Canadian officials along with Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa and City Councilmembers Melinda Katz and Dennis Gallagher, visited with members of G-COP on Saturday, January 12 as they toured parts of western Queens and discussed the problem of graffiti.
“They were very impressed,” said Frank Kotnik Jr., the former president of G-COP, who interacted with the Canadian visitors. “We’ve been on the cutting edge and doing a very good job combating graffiti.”
Kotnik said he received a phone call from Gallagher telling him that Sliwa and the Halifax officials wanted to see G-COP’s graffiti project, and he quickly volunteered G-COP’s services. G-COP is the largest, oldest and most active civilian patrol in New York City and has been responsible for the extensive cleaning of graffiti and the prosecution of vandals in the 104th Precinct.
“We showed them sites that were cleaned,” Kotnik said. He said he gave the officials tips such as the need to clean and the need to prohibit all graffiti in all areas, including murals.
Halifax has designated areas for murals in an attempt to deter vandals from damaging private property. However, Kotnik said this is ineffective because it only encourages vandals to apply graffiti to surrounding walls that are not designated.
“Graffiti makes more graffiti,” Kotnik said. “There’s nothing artistic about damaging property. Graffiti is a crime, we can’t sugarcoat it.”
“It’s about the quality of life,” he continued. “Graffiti on walls creates lawlessness and decent people feel threatened.”
The Canadian officials said the areas of Queens they visited are substantially more graffiti-free than those areas in Halifax.
“We do have a graffiti problem, and it’s probably never going to go away,” said Lou Kirchgessner, current president of G-COP. “But we probably have less than other communities, and we stay on top of it.”
Kirchgessner said that G-COP goes out twice a week patrolling the neighborhood at night and looking for vandals.
“I am very happy, we’re on top of it, the City of New York is on top of it,” Kotnik said. “We have so many people out there doing the right thing and only a few vandals. We have to prosecute.”
Kotnik termed the visit a great success, and he was happy to impart G-COP’s knowledge to his graffiti counterparts from Halifax.
“I wish I could’ve helped them more,” he added.

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