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Who to trust: gangs or police
By David De Rurange/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore. -- It's a lie gangs want Latinos to believe: if you talk to police, you'll get deported. A local father said that is what surrounding gangs tell the Latino community. Now he wants answers of who he can trust.
Police say a majority of gang activity in the Rogue Valley comes from the Nortenos and Surenos.
Jesus Sevilla has lived in the valley for 21 years. Gangs have cut into his way of life. He said their influence has grown, threatening his family and community. His employer said Jesus is one of their best workers and he has full documentation.
Jesus said sometimes Latinos face more problems with police than with gang members.
"The police will ask a lot of questions, which is good, it's their job, but sometimes one can't attend that many questions," Jesus said. "I work while my wife takes care of our children. One hour that I don't work is a lot for my family."
Concerning the notion of police deporting undocumented immigrants when they're reporting a crime, Jesus' son Luis blames the media.
"Sometimes they don't really know about the police," Luis said. "It's there to help, but they see on the news, people getting deported. It's not really the police, but sometimes they'll think it's the police so they won't want to call them to solve their problems."
At a gang awareness meeting, Jesus asked police if they deport undocumented immigrants, even if they're reporting a crime.
"I've been in law enforcement for 11 years and not once have I ever deported somebody who called us because they were a victim of a crime." Medford Police officer Ian McDonald said.
Police said deportation doesn't fit their job description.
"We're going to take care of the victims. We're not looking for immigration status." Medford Police Lt. Brett Johnson said.
Lt. Johnson said gangs victimize the Latino community by saying if Latinos report something, they will be taken into custody with the suspects.
"That's not true," Johnson said. "But it's something they use to try to further their criminal activity by victimizing hard working folks that are just wanting to raise a family and make a living."
That's all Jesus has planned to do.
Now, he's asked to trust police and sever the ties gangs use to bind his community.
Medford Police have an anonymous bilingual tip-line at 541-618-1TIP (1847).
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