By Lindsay Carey
Community service for vandals will now be at the discretion of business owners, according to Town Councilor Dawn Miceli.
“If they want the vandals once they are caught to have to serve community service as restitution for their crimes, we will be able to do that through our Southington Juvenile Review Board,” said Miceli, at a recent Town Council meeting.
Depending on the offense, Southington youth under the age of 18 can go before the Juvenile Review Board if they have admitted guilt and if it is their first offense.
Miceli and Sue Saucier, from Youth Services, worked with the review board to make it possible for property owners to request that the juvenile come and clean up the graffiti as a part of the ACT On It, the Anonymous Community Tip Line and anti-vandalism public awareness campaign Miceli launched earlier this year.
“It makes sense for them to have to pay back the specific victim for the criminal activity they were involved in,” said Saucier.
This expansion to the campaign is also meant to educate the vandals about the price of vandalism and how it impacts the business owner and community.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the convicted youth to learn just how costly vandalism can be in financial terms and the destructive nature of it,” said Miceli. “It’s costly to our community on so many levels.”
Saucier also suggested the community service could be an opportunity for the juvenile to make a connection with a positive business leader in town.
“Positive role models get kids back on the right track,” said Saucier.
There are ACT On It posters and signs around town that display the campaign’s logo and the tip line phone number, 860-276-1234.
Since Miceli started the campaign there has been an increase in police patrol and now through the Juvenile Review Board and there will be consequences for vandalism.
In addition to these efforts, Youth Services purchased key chains and refrigerator magnets with the logo and tip line number on it.
“It’s upsetting to us at youth services, the STEPs coalition and also for residents to hear about the kind of vandalism that has been going on in the last six months,” said Saucier. “We were happy that we were able to help in our small way.”
Miceli said that the key chains and magnets were created in an additional effort to promote the tip line and remind citizens to contact the tip line if they see suspicious people, vehicles or activity.
“If we are all vigilant to what is going on in our community we can make stamping out vandalism that much easier,” said Miceli.
The key chains and magnets will be placed in baskets in the YMCA, the health department, the library, the town clerks office, local businesses and will also be available at the town council.
Saucier welcomed local businesses to contact youth services if they would like to have some on display.
Miceli and Saucier are hoping that the key chains and refrigerator magnets serve will serve as a reminder, so that the town is notified as soon as possible and the graffiti can be removed immediately.
According to Miceli, this will serve as an indication to vandals that the town of Southington is not going to tolerate it in the community.
“It’s just another way to keep eyes on the subject, so that we’ll be able to be a proactive community instead of reactive,’ said Miceli. “If we see something we need to say something.”
By Lindsay Carey