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Iowa City Police Start Community CleanUp Program

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- You can find anything and everything at Crowded Closet in Iowa City - From wedding dresses to handcrafted works of art.

“All our items are donated,” said manager Betsy Slabaugh.

Just beyond their doors, however, people have donated pieces of art that aren't as appreciated – in the form of graffiti

“We don't like it when it pops up over and over after we've cleaned it up,” Slabaugh said.

Neighborhood Services Coordinator Marcia Bollinger says the growing graffiti problem around Slabaugh’s store could be tied to a growing homeless population in the area.

“Many of those people live and spend time in the railroad track area,” Bollinger said.

She says the graffiti can only get worse.

“It tends to build upon itself, if it's left in place then you'll just see more of it,” Bollinger said.

Businesses say all this graffiti is concerning because there's a chance that potential customers could be turned off before they even walk through the front door.

“I just see it on a day to day basis, I'm sure property owners see it on a day to day basis,” Iowa City Crime Prevention Officer Jorey Bailey said.

The unwanted artwork gave Bailey an idea.

“A graffiti clean-up program, it's aimed at really cleaning up community,” Bailey said

Property owners will provide the materials; police will provide the man power.

“I'll work side by side with youth that have already been involved in the juvenile court system,” Bailey said.

Many are eagerly awaiting the results.

“Everything will look a lot nicer and people will enjoy coming here,” Slabaugh said.

For more information on the graffiti clean-up program, contact Officer Jorey Bailey at 319-356-5273 or

   The Iowa City Police Department is offering a new program this summer to help clean up the city.
   The ICPD, in collaboration with the Mayor's Youth Empowerment Program and Johnson County Juvenile Court Services, will provide a graffiti cleanup program to Iowa City residents and business owners throughout the summer.
   If an Iowa City property owner provides paint and brushes, officers and youth will come to the property and paint over the existing graffiti at no charge.
   City code says graffiti is a public nuisance.  Experts say graffiti that is allowed to stay on a property for any length of time tends to promote further vandalism and deterioration of the area.
   Officials say this program gives police officers an opportunity to work side-by-side with Iowa City youth, all working toward the same goal of a better, cleaner community.
   To schedule a cleanup, contact Officer Jorey Bailey at
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