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Sacramento Officer Uses Old School Justice For Teenage Taggers

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Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento police officer is used to fighting crime, but not quite like this.

“My feeling is, what would I have been made to do when I was younger if I had done this?” Sacramento police Officer T.J. Price said.

He didn’t make any arrests when he caught some teens spraying graffiti on a fence. Instead, he’s hoping his punishment paints a picture the suspects won’t soon forget.

Normally the teens would end up in court, but instead Price did something he’s never done before. He served up some old school justice.

“It’s one of those obnoxious crimes. All it does is cause people headaches,” said Price.

He gets tired of seeing gang graffiti all over the south Sacramento neighborhood he patrols.

He decided not to write citations to the trio of teens responsible for marking fences with a big, red X4. Instead, Price did what his dad would’ve done back in the day.

With their parents’ blessings, he told the 17-year-old boys to clean up their own mess, so the homeowners wouldn’t have to.

“Hey, these kids can be responsible. If they wanna do it, they can fix it. That’s the way we did it back in the olden days when I was young, and that’s the way I look at it now,” said Price.

First, he had to teach the teens how to use rollers and paint brushes.

“Definitely taught them a lesson I think,” he said. “They didn’t know how to paint; they didn’t like doing it, and didn’t want to spend their time after school doing it. But, they did it.”

One parent is grateful for the officer who thought outside the box, and hopeful the unique punishment convinces his son Vico Molina to stay away from gangs.

“He said, ‘I’ve never done this before, but I saw something in your son that made me want to push a little, because I know he’s better than that,’ ” said Victor Molina, Vico’s father.

“It’s not something we do normally as a department,” said Price.

Vico, 17, says it’s the first time he went tagging, and he promises it’ll be the last. He says it was worse than going to court and was embarrassing having to paint while neighbors watched.

“What he made us do is something I don’t wanna do anymore, and I think I learned from it,” said Vico. “I don’t wanna do that anymore.”

Hopefully they all did. Price promises if the teens get caught tagging again that he’ll come in on his day off and have them go through the entire neighborhood cleaning up all the graffiti.

Officer price says it took less time for the teens to paint over the graffiti — an hour — than it would have for him to write and file citations.

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