12/22/2014

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School graffiti down as police hold students accountable

SELAH, Wash. -- Some Selah students learned the hard way not to deface school property. When officers started handing out fines for graffiti other students took notice.

Officer Pauli Martin is outnumbered. He is surrounded by hundreds of students with one mission - safety.

It's why even smaller crimes like graffiti are a big deal.

"There is a cost with it. Even if you think it's just simple drawings. But if it's not your property, you don't have the right to right on it," said Selah Police Officer Pauli Martin.

It's why former School resource officer Jerald Smith began a stricter approach.

"He actually started citing these kids with a civil infraction and brought them to court for graffiti," Martin said.

At least a dozen kids have been slapped with a $250 fine. A pricey ticket especially for teenagers.

"When they were getting 13 or 14 counts, that's a huge amount. And if they can't pay for it, their parents will be held responsible," Martin said.

"And their parent's won't like that?" KIMA asked.

"Not. A. Bit," she said.

Mom Linda Doria is quick to agree.

"It's not just the parents that are going to have to pay. Also the city has to pay for damage that is done and that's not fair," Doria said.

It's made a big difference at Selah High School - cutting graffiti incidents by more than half.

"Word travels fast," Martin said. "Those kids are going to let them know, 'Hey, you'll be caught, have to go to court, community service.'"

Officer Martin says the enforcement has also made a difference around Selah. She says they've noticed a recent drop in graffiti cases on city property which proves a little enforcement goes a long way.

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