MEDFORD, Ore. — A two-year study on the gang problem in the Rogue Valley is now being released to the public, and revealed that a majority of people believe there is a significant gang problem in Jackson County.
Members of the Jackson County Gang Task Force spent the past two years interviewing various stakeholders, including police, schools, community groups, and gang members themselves. The results of those surveys will be used to find new, long-term solutions to local gang problems.
According to Jackson County Juvenile Services Director Joe Ferguson, 77 percent of those surveyed said they think there is a gang problem in Jackson County. The research also identified 16 active gangs in the Rogue Valley, and nearly 350 active gang members. 80 percent of those gangs are Hispanic street gangs, including the Norteños and Sureños.
Medford Police said most of the crimes being committed by gangs are graffiti or gang tagging, but they have also seen drug dealing, assaults, even murders.
“It’s going to be very eye-opening to the public and to us about what’s happening and what’s going on in the gang culture right now in Jackson County,” said Lt. Kevin Walruff with Medford Police.
The surveys also asked students whether they thought there were gang problems in schools. 54 percent of those students said no, saying schools have taken a good stance toward preventing gang activity in local schools.
The first of two community forums on the findings was held Tuesday night. The second will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at White City Elementary School.