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Police: Rogue Valley gang growth 'explosive'

In the wake of a gang-related murder in September, the number of gang members and associates known to police has soared.

Medford police report that they have identified about 100 people with some affiliation to gangs, up from 55 this spring.

Although the list includes white supremacists, outlaw motorcycle gangs and a few Crips, the surge in growth has come in Hispanic street gangs, Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said. Most active here are Norteños and Sureños, which have roots in the California prison system, and subsets of those two gangs.

While intense investigations and crackdowns by police have helped authorities learn more about existing gang activity and build the list, gangs are growing, Doney said.

He described gang activity in the Rogue Valley since the early 1990s as “like the tide,” ebbing and surging over time.

“Gang activity is still big time on our radar,” Doney said.

Police from Medford and Central Point, as well as the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Jackson County Community Justice divisions that deal with adults and youth, the Jackson County Commission on Children And Families and the district attorney have met to discuss and coordinate enforcement efforts, he said. Gang activity and ways to prevent it are common topics at monthly meetings between Medford police and school officials.

“We recognize that this is bigger than law enforcement,” Doney said, calling for community intervention before kids get involved in trouble.

“We’re currently working with schools, nonprofits and local churches to address some of the issues related to the explosive growth of gangs in recent months since the stabbing,” he said.

A meeting of potential partners is planned within a month, he said.

— Anita Burke