SUN VALLEY : Volunteers Organize to Combat Graffiti


The Foothill Division of the Los Angeles Police Department will soon gain new foot soldiers in the fight to wipe out graffiti.

Nearly 50 community members from Sylmar to Sunland are expected to take part in the first training session Saturday at Stonehurst Park in Sun Valley to create the Foothill Area Surveillance Team (FAST). The volunteer members will pair with police to stake out graffiti-plagued areas, report acts of vandalism and eventually make citizens’ arrests.

“We can cut graffiti dramatically when we let these people know they are not immune,” said Tom Weissbarth, president of the Sylmar Graffiti Busters Inc., who plans to attend.


Sgt. Pete Weinhold, in charge of the division’s crime prevention unit, said the volunteer citizens patrol will be implemented in several phases.

After volunteers receive training on radio procedures and criminal law, they will team up in groups of three with a police officer to scope out buildings and other structures scarred by graffiti. They will alert police to crimes in progress, and the officers can move in to make arrests.

As they gain experience, the volunteers will eventually be taught how to take crime reports and make citizen arrests, Weinhold said. “Hopefully, when people are trained enough, they can do this on their own, sit on locations and make citizens’ arrests. That’s the goal,” he said.