EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police said they are organizing a community discussion to combat rising gang violence and gang-related crimes.
"We've seen an increase in gun related crimes," said Eugene Police Sgt. Scott McKee on Friday. "We've seen an increase in violent criminal acts involving gang members. Over the last several years, we've documented over 180 different gang sets."
McKee said Lane County's street gangs do not follow typical gang-related stereotypes.
"We see gang members from all walks of lifefrom poverty to wealthy well-to-do families," said McKee. "They don't typically associate with a specific color, like you would think."
McKee said tgang members in Lane County are mostly white males. He added that they do not adhere to typical neighborhood or turf boundaries.
Nonetheless, McKee said the groups are growing.
"We see recruiting happening at the elementary and middle school age," he said.
As inmates are released from the jail and fewer officers are staffed, McKee said the "criminal justice system in Lane County has lost its teeth."
"The hope is that we can figure out a way to give kids healthy, attractive alternatives to gang involvement," said McKee. "It's a pretty complicated problem."
Eugene Police said they are hosting the Lane County Gang Prevention Symposium on January 12, 2013, at Lane Community College Center for Meeting and Learning from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration deadline for the event is due by January 9, 2013. The event is free. Child care, sign language, interpreters and bus passes will be provided upon request. For more information or help registering, call (541) 682-6348.