Since the start of the program in November 2006, the Pendleton Police Department has dished out $1,250 on its graffiti abatement program. That's money well spent, said Pendleton Police Lt. Mark Swanson.

Now in its third year, the program encourages property owners to cover graffiti on the police department's dime.

Per city ordinance, property owners are required to cover graffiti within three days of receiving written notice from the police. Failure to comply can result in a $500 fine.

When Pendleton police notify a property owner about graffiti, officers also provide the owner with a form to take to either Zimmerman & Co. Hardware or Sherwin-Williams, both in downtown Pendleton. There, the owner can charge paint and materials to cover the graffiti and the police department will reimburse the store.

When the department started the program, Police Chief Stuart Roberts said Pendleton didn't have a significant graffiti problem, and 32 months later that still seems the situation.

Swanson said he has 42 invoices for graffiti abatement, a little more than one per month, and the department has spent $1,250 on the program. The average cost is about $30, and the single most expensive purchase has been $118.

The money comes out of the department's normal operating budget, he said, meaning that's money the department won't have for something else, such as officer training.

But Swanson said it's worth it.

"I think it's a valuable service, and technically it's not our responsibility, but it's our community," he said.

Additionally, Swanson said the program serves the police goal of cleaning up graffiti fast to put a stop to more of the same.

Businesses, such as Wilcox Furniture, have used it, and so has the First Christian Church. And to date, Swanson said the department hasn't heard any complaints about the program.

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