A comprehensive report that examines data on gang-related and violent crime prevalence throughout Multnomah County was presented Tuesday to the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) Executive Committee.
The 500-page Multnomah County Comprehensive Gang Assessment, compiled from January 2014 through June 2014, also looks at demographic information, community members’ perception of gang activity and the availability of community resources to people impacted by gangs.
"This report does an excellent job of explaining the scope and impact of gang activity in our county,” says Multnomah County Commissioner and LPSCC co-chair Judy Shiprack. "It's an important step in addressing an issue that has devastated communities for far too long.”
Data shown in the report presented July 8 during the committee meeting at Gresham City Hall was gathered from a diverse pool of regional sources including the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office; District Attorney’s Office; Health Department; Local Public Safety Coordinating Council; and Department of Community Justice; the Portland Police Bureau; the U.S. Census Bureau; the Oregon Department of Education; Oregon Youth Authority; and more.
Additional data from the report was provided by more than 1,000 members of the public including community leaders, students and gang-involved individuals. These group shared their personal perceptions on gangs through surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews.
The report notes some limits on the gang-activity data collected due to the lack of existing mechanisms to consistently measure that activity across different agencies. To work around that, the report looks at non-domestic violence aggravated assault, Part 1 crimes and “shots fired” calls as a means of measurement.
Key findings for the report include:
- That while census data shows income levels and education attainment are on the rise in Multnomah County overall, these increases are unevenly distributed. The gains are focused in central Southeast, Northeast and Southwest Portland.
- Overall, crime has decreased in Multnomah County in recent years. However, criminal activity has shifted from North and Northeast Portland to neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, East Portland and Gresham.
- There are at least 133 active gangs in Multnomah County.
- African-American students are 3.2 times as likely to be expelled from school as white students in Multnomah County.
- Of those interviewed, gang-involved individuals identified becoming a parent, family responsibilities and getting married as the top three reasons to leave a gang.
- Of the 260 community resource programs that responded in detail to the survey administered by the Comprehensive Gang Assessment staff, only 5 percent specifically focused on serving gang members.
The Multnomah County Comprehensive Gang Assessment is the first phase of a three-phase process. The second phase is implementation planning, which calls for prioritizing gang-related problems and goal-setting. The third phase is implementation of the strategies developed in phase two.