By Dave Carlin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD hit the streets Saturday to kick off a new campaign to combat a big rise in graffiti.

The cleanup involves off-duty officers, volunteers and a lot of paint.

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Getting the big job rolling was NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, taking what was a graffiti-covered supermarket building in Bushwick from marred and marked up to bright and bare.

Among the volunteer painters were officers, participating on their own time, and very young helpers.

“The best thing is all the little kids picking up the brushes, community members, businesses donating and interspersed with the men and women of the police department,” Shea said.

The department has been seeking out volunteers and asking for supplies donations for about a month since announcing the plan in March.

The city gets thousands of community complaints about graffiti every year.

An NYPD map shows dots are on 537 locations, public and privately owned, that members of 300 teams responded to on Saturday.

  • To view an interactive map of where volunteers were cleaning, click here.

Along Lexington Avenue in Manhattan’s Murray Hill, 8-year-old Marisa Vanderschauw happily beautified a wall she passes by on her way to school.

“‘Cause then you won’t see any more graffiti,” she told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.

“This is just only the beginning. We’ll be doing this all summer long, maybe not on this scale, but we will be hitting different communities,” said NYPD Community Affairs Bureau Chief Jeffrey Maddrey.

“It feels great. It’s good to help the community,” Ridgewood resident Juan Prince said.

Back in Bushwick, it helped having such a large and dedicated army of painters to get the job wrapped up before lunchtime.

“It’s a good thing when you can see your neighborhood clean again,” Bushwick resident Billy Quinones said.

“This is community and police working together, and starting today and every day, this is the way Bushwick has to be,” said Barbara Smith, president of the 83rd Precinct Community Council.

Spreading so much more than paint, this fosters togetherness to help spread trust.

The NYPD said it received more than 6,000 complaints in 2020 about damage to properties – including from graffiti.

As CBS2 reported last summer, the city’s budget didn’t include funding to clean up the damage. So, the department asked New Yorkers for help.

The NYPD’s Vandals Task Force works to prevent graffiti around the city.

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The NYPD is asking New Yorkers send in photos and suggest cleanup locations by emailing graffiti@nypd.org.

Dave Carlin