By David De Rurange/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore. -- Jackson County has a Gang Task Force made up of experts, police and community leaders. They're responding to gang activity through a countywide assessment.
Phil Ortega, a Safe Schools Coordinator out of Eagle Point, looked at the latest results from the Jackson County Gang Assessment. The assessment should identify how bad the gang problem is and what should be done to stop it.
"People feel there's an increase in crime related to gangs." Ortega said. "I think that's very true. I think that the surveys are right on. I feel like I could really trust the data."
The data will be completed and released to the public by April.
School Resource Officers said it has been frustrating to try to get parents more involved in the assessement. During last year's summer Gang Resistance Education and Training program (G.R.E.A.T.), Medford Police worked with kids and their families, pushing for better gang resistance.
"We do the G.R.E.A.T. program within the schools and the gang resistance education and training and one of the components of that is the family component." School Resource Officer Mark Peterson said. "We tried to get that off the ground at the beginning of the school year and put out invitations to all the families we've worked with, or children in the schools and we didn't get any responses back."
Yet, the Gang Task Force continues its work. It hears about gangs in local schools. It monitors neighborhoods marked with graffiti and littered with drugs.
Doctor Lee Ayers is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Southern Oregon University. Ayers is leading the task force in conducting the gang assessment.
"I think it's very wise of Medford, not only to have their multi-jurisdictional task force that looks at gang issues, but to say 'not on our watch.'" Ayers said.
The group can only do so much.
"Gang violence and the at-risk youth isn't really a police issue or a school issue. It's a community issue." Ortega said at the end of their meeting. "I choose to live in the valley. I choose to be in a place that is caring and I want to make a difference."
Below is the agenda from last week's Gang Task Force meeting. Contact Joe Ferguson for more information about the group and the Jackson County Gang Assessment.
February 6, 2013
8:30am – 9:30am
Community Justice / Elections Building
1101 West Main Street
First Floor Conference Room
1. Assessment Timeline (Where are we?)
2. Preliminary Survey Results
3. Pending Survey Areas:
-Student and School Personnel Surveys
-Community Resource Inventory
-Gang Member Interviews
- Gang Crime by Type
-General County Demographics
4. Round Table
Jackson County Juvenile Services
609 W 10th Street
Medford, Oregon 97501
Phone: (541) 774-4833
Fax: (541) firstname.lastname@example.org