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This warrior is battling graffiti

Police officer Frank Reina is waging war - on graffiti.
The 43-year-old, who is a 15-year veteran with the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, runs clean-ups of areas that have been vandalized - and works to keep them clean with volunteers and the help of the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill.
“When I do clean-ups, I inform plainclothes, anti-crime and midnight [officers] of freshly-painted walls and they keep on passing by,” he told The Courier. “We’re all on the same NYPD team.”
But unfortunately, he continued, “We just don’t have enough manpower to watch one wall.”
Reina, who lives in Long Island, said that he has seen an increase in the number of graffiti incidents in Queens, even this year.
“I’ve seen it on sidewalks, cars,” he said, “The new trend is burning [graffiti] in glass with acid.”
“It’s usually young kids doing it - average age is between 13 and 16 - and it only takes them five seconds. These kids are always coming up with something new,” he said, adding that vandalism is a quality of life issue.
He explained that the graffitists who “tag” want “street cred [credibility],” and even upload images to web sites and YouTube.
In response to the idea of graffiti as art, Reina told The Courier, “Art to me is on canvas. Art is not damaging someone’s personal property.”
The officer, in community policing for 13 years, and who walked the Ozone Park beat for 10 years, said that he gets out into the community on a regular basis to help home and business owners fight “tagging.”
“I’m pretty well known,” he said, “especially with the store owners.”
If you witness graffitists in the act, Reina said, call 9-1-1. The vandals will be arrested and charged.
In fact, Reina himself made an arrest not too long ago.
“An auxiliary officer [auxiliaries are volunteers] called me and I made the collar,” he said.
The best defense against graffiti, he explained, is vigilance.
Homes and businesses should be well lit. Security cameras are also a plus, Reina noted, and parents should be aware of what their children are doing - and what is in their kids’ backpacks.
“We’re trying to keep the neighborhood clean, and I think we’re doing a good job,” Reina said.

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