Jackson County law enforcement and youth agencies are planning a series of community forums to hear residents' perceptions and opinions about the presence of gangs in the Rogue Valley.
The Jackson County Gang Task Force will hold 10 community forums throughout the county through December. Attendees will fill out surveys related to their perception of how serious the gang problem is locally. Law enforcement and community justice officials will use the data as they consider how to best direct prevention resources.
(All meetings 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.)
Thursday, July 26
Eagle Point library
Monday, Aug. 6
Thursday, Aug. 30
Monday, Sept. 10
Monday, Sept. 24
Central Point library
Wednesday, Oct. 24
Shady Cove library
Tuesday, Nov. 13
Rogue River library
Thursday, Nov. 29
White City library
Wednesday, Dec. 12
To be announced
Medford Santo Center
"It's really involving the whole community, because it is a community issue," said Joe Ferguson, deputy director for the Jackson County Community Justice's Juvenile Department.
The first forum will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26 at the Eagle Point library, 239 W. Main St.
Additional forums will be held in Ashland, Phoenix, Talent, Medford, Central Point, Applegate, Ruch, Gold Hill, Shady Cove and Jacksonville. All forums are open to the public.
"It's really focused on community residents and parents," Ferguson said. "It's really to gather some information from our community."
As part of the forums, participants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire on their own experience and beliefs about gangs and gang activity in their community. The questionnaires will be collected but participants will remain anonymous.
Additional surveys will be conducted among students countywide in seventh through 10th grades. One of the questions students will be asked is to identify the characteristics of youths who are involved in or at risk of being involved in gangs.
A survey of community business leaders is already under way.
Agencies involved in the task force include Community Corrections, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Medford Police Department, Southern Oregon University, Rogue Valley YMCA and the Jackson County Commission on Children and Families, along with various community members and school personnel.
"It's a group of folks from all over the community," said Lt. Brett Johnson of the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement.
Johnson said local residents are much more cognizant of the presence of gangs in the community following incidents such as the fatal stabbing in a Phoenix trailer park and a drive-by shooting in Central Point. He said he hopes this round of forums will be the first step in helping to solve the problem.
"It's a good cooperative effort for everybody," Johnson said.
Results from the surveys and forums are expected to be compiled and ready for distribution by March.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.