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June 18, 2008 > Niles Fremont Rotary funds Graffiti Abatement Project

Niles Fremont Rotary funds Graffiti Abatement Project

By William Marshak

David Haitema and Maureen Garrett, probation officers with Alameda County, received a $2,000 grant from the Fremont Niles Rotary Club on June 12 to bring a successful Hayward graffiti abatement project to Fremont.

In April 2007, two little girls were shot and killed, accidental victims in a drive-by shooting in Hayward. Haitema noticed that gang graffiti of those responsible were on prominent display around the girls' homes and took the initiative to have offenders on his caseload paint over the graffiti on weekends. Some probationers were completing community service but after observing the effect of this cleanup effort, they became enthusiastic participants. They even continued to show up following fulfillment of their court-ordered service.

Haitema has received little support from the Probation Department, and, aside from paint donations, has borne much of the cost of this program himself, community support has been overwhelming. "We need to get the probationers out there painting over graffiti" said Haitema. Property owners who did not have the resources to get rid of the graffiti thought they had to live with the degradation and decay of their neighborhood until Haitema and the paint crews began showing up.

A presentation to Rotarians revealed that there are approximately 18,000 people on probation in Alameda County. Even though over 2,000 adult high threat offenders and juveniles on probation are supervised, more than 14,000 probationers are unsupervised because the Probation Department does not have enough resources. Garrett pointed out that crimes committed by juveniles today are becoming far more serious than they were thirty years ago.

Garrett suggested that members of the local Rotary club could get involved by volunteering to be mentors and aid the Parent Project Jr. of the Union City Police Department in which parents learn how to control and correct negative behavior of their children.

To learn more about the Parent Project Jr., contact the Union City Police Department at (510) 471-1365.

To learn how to erase graffiti in your community, please contact David Haitema at (510) 670-6662.

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