New graffiti trend on the Palouse, is it art or a crime?

MOSCOW, ID - Moscow and Pullman don't see graffiti or street art as much as larger, urban areas, but police officers say it's a crime and they're doing what they can to keep it to a minimum.

Rachel Dubrovin took a look at the latest graffiti trends on the Palouse and has this report.

Washington State University Police Sergeant Mike Larsen said graffiti generally isn't a problem on campus.

"Sometimes we get lucky and catch the people that do it," said Larsen.

But over the last semester, police got more than twenty reports of this specific tag. Walls, stairwells, and trash cans. This tagger will deface just about anything.

"It's kind of aggravating to think that somebody doesn't have enough respect for other people's property, taxpayer's property," said Larsen.

Larsen said maintenance crews get it cleaned it up pretty quick, but they don't have any idea who's doing it. He said they don't think it's gang-related, it's just someone who wants to say, "I was here."

"There's nothing significant necessarily, sometimes its just somebody that wants to put their initials down," said Larsen.

Here in Moscow, a slightly different type of graffiti is popping up all around town. And it may be conveying a different message.

"There's sort of a pent up need to express one's self," said U of I Director of University Galleries Roger Rowley.

There are some memorable pieces of graffiti in Moscow that are stenciled and more artistic than the traditional tag.

"That's happening in larger cities," said Rowley. "London, New York, LA."

University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery Director Roger Rowley is able to approach it with an artistic view.

"There is some thought that's going into what the image will look like," said Rowley.

And even though Moscow is considered to be a "Heart of the Arts"... Police Chief David Duke explains that graffiti is a crime no matter how intricate, or interesting it is.

"The fine itself can be up to a thousand dollars, but usually a standard misdemeanor charge right now it is $300 to $400 range," said Duke.

There's actually an ordinance in Moscow that requires businesses to clean graffiti off their building within 30 days, and they could be charged with a fine if they leave it up.