'Wherever there's a gang - stop it before it gets out of control'

EUGENE, Ore. -- While they don't always resemble the stereotypical gang members off the streets of southern California, law enforcement officials said there are plenty of gang activity in Lane County.

To help combat the unique type of gang life, law enforcement officials enlisted a former gang member David Heisser to help out with their second gang prevention symposium.

For Heisser, it's all lawns and landscaping tools these days. In his youth, however, he carried a different set of tools. Heisser told KVAL News that he left his life as a Compton Crip years ago.

"You tell a good story, and make sure these kids understand that getting out of this crime this is better than gang life," Heisser said.

Earlier this year, the county held a gang prevention symposium to identify the problem and raise awareness about the type of gangster we have in our area.

Heisser said his experiences with gang life could help the community in understanding Lane County's gangs.

"You put a gun in anybody's hand, they a gangster," said Heisser. "What mostly drew me into gangs was the cars, money, the guns, the drugs, the fast money pretty much."

Heisser said that after getting out of the gang life, he found a fresh start in Oregon.

Now he works as a gang adviser with law enforcement in Lane County, helping to prevent what officials are calling a growing population of uniquely-Eugene gangsters.

"It still follows the rules of a gang, so wherever there's a gang - stop it before it gets out of control and becomes a corporation gang," said Heisser. "So, that's the point I'm trying to get across - to get these kids pointed in the right direction."

Heisser hopes that he can provide people with the same second chance that he had.

"It's fulfilling, it's satisfying just get to see what you did. And I don't have to worry about going to jail tonight," said Heisser.

Heisser will be speaking at the second gang prevention symposium held at Lane Community College on April 27. The symposium runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is free to the public.