Vandal With Care

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    After seventeen years as a cop in the New York City Vandal Squad—a team of police officers dedicated to the crackdown of graffiti in subway stations—ex-officer Joe Rivera offers a look inside the New York City Transit police department circa 1984-2004 in his new book [Vandal Squad] (A Miss Rosen Edition, published by powerHouse Books).

    Written as the diary of a gritty cop born and raised in the Bronx, Vandal Squad is most memorable for chronicling a series of Rivera’s run-ins with the city’s graffiti artists. While the account is informative, the most telling details are in the full-page photos of vandal artwork.

    There's also a timeline in the back that provides a concise guide through the progression of New York City vandalism, extrapolating key points from the movement such as the First Amendment lawsuit against the city's new graffiti laws filed by Marc Ecko in 2006. Stephanie Lee spoke with Rivera about his favorite photos in the book.

    This is a NYCTA Subway Map with a "shout out" to the members of the Vandal Squad. This provides the reader with a view of what these vandals thought of our unit. They basically told us to go F ourselves. It’s appealing to me because it shows we were doing our jobs well. It’s like mission accomplished.

    Image by Cope

    Displayed here are the colorful exterior train tags from back in the 1990s. These two vandals definitely caused some damage in the subway! Cope and Ovie who were big in the ‘80’s and ‘90s did it. They teamed up and hit the trains pretty hard. As you can see, the love for the Vandal Squad is tremendous.

    This one displays two whole cars, which were extremely colorful. Unfortunately, I never bagged the individuals who caused that damage. The photo superimposed on the rear cover displays a train being buffed, which provides the reader with a view of what it actually looks like when cleaning the extensive damage.