Police chief addresses gang-related graffiti in Lynnwood

Volunteers paint over graffiti in Lynnwood. (Photos courtesy of Lynnwood Police Department)

After the fatal shooting of two teens that took place in Spruce Park on July 14, many Lynnwood residents have raised concerns of increased gang activity in the area. A majority of these concerns have been brought to the attention of Lynnwood Police Chief Jim Nelson, who took time to address them at the second “Let’s Talk About Safety” meeting in August and again during a follow-up interview with Lynnwood Today.

While it has not yet been confirmed that the recent shootings are related to gang activity, Nelson said that police have been noticing slightly more gang-related graffiti appear in the city.

“Graffiti can look like a number of things,” Nelson said. “It could be someone tagging their name on something or trying to create an art name for themself. And we unfortunately have a lot of that in the city, too. But we’ve also been seeing more gang graffiti as well. Those have certain characteristics.”

Nelson said gangs will tend to write their gang name or slogan in areas they want to claim as “theirs.” The graffiti is usually in a specific color associated with the gang and lets other gangs know that they are not welcome in the area.

According to Nelson, the city tries to work quickly to remove any gang-related graffiti that is reported, as it can quickly escalate.

“[The graffiti can cause issues] that build up on themselves and initiate other gang-related things,” Nelson said. “We try our best to take it down or cover it up as soon as we know it’s there to prevent anything else from happening.”

Unfortunately, Nelson said there isn’t a foolproof way to prevent gang-related graffiti. However, he said the sooner it’s reported, the sooner the city can work to remove it and monitor the area it appeared in.

A volunteer paints over graffiti in Lynnwood.

Nelson also pointed out that more gang graffiti does not necessarily mean more gangs making a home in Lynnwood.

“Gang activity comes and goes in Lynnwood, just like a lot of other crimes,” Nelson said. “Sometimes it increases, and sometimes it’s quiet. Right now, we aren’t really noticing more gangs popping up or more gang-related activity happening. But we are continuing to monitor situations when they do arise, and we are working toward making our city as ‘unappealing’ as possible to criminals and gangs, so they don’t want to stay here.”

The police chief said the Lynnwood police are still doing what they can to partner with youth and deter them from joining gangs.

“There really is an unfulfilled need for [positive police interaction] in our community right now,” he said. “But we’re doing what we can with what we have. We partner where we can with other organizations and try to have our expertise join their expertise so we can do this together.”

For non-emergency reports such as graffiti, Lynnwood residents can call 425- 407-3999 or file a report online at www.mycrimereport.us/#Welcome.

–By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. The person interviewed in this article really downplayed the graffiti. I’ve been seeing it everywhere around Meadowdale, more and more each day, it’s not going anywhere. They need to take it more seriously and review neighborhood security cams and prosecute for the cumulative damage.

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