East side, west side

West Medford is back in the news again, and not in a good way. But before anyone gets the idea that gangs and drugs are only a west Medford problem, think again.

Police broke up a fight last week on Columbus Avenue involving 15 to 20 people armed with knives, bats and clubs. Those involved included at least one person suspected of being a member of the Sureños gang, according to police.

The next day, a man was shot multiple times near the Woodland Heights Market. Police say the dispute that led to the shooting was not gang-related, but that's not likely to come as a relief to residents unnerved by violence and drug crimes in their neighborhood.

Medford police say they will step up patrols in the Columbus Avenue area and begin patrols by officers on bicycles to encourage more interaction between police and residents.

That's a good move. A visible police presence goes a long way toward discouraging criminal activity and making residents feels safer.

Medford police have taken an aggressive attitude toward gang activity since loosely affiliated gang members started showing up in the Rogue Valley. For the most part, police have characterized local gang activity as driven mostly by "wannabes" rather than hard-core gang members. Still, individuals identifying with groups known to engage in drug trafficking and violence should not be dismissed.

Anyone living outside west Medford who might feel a sense of security for that reason should note several arrests last week in east Medford.

A 21-year-old man living on Brookhurst Street less than 1,000 feet from North Medford High School was arrested Wednesday when officers served a search warrant and seized methamphetamine, drug-packaging materials and a handgun. The arrested man is believed to be a member of the Norteño gang.

In an unrelated case, also within 1,000 feet of North High, police found heroin, packaging materials and equipment, cash and a handgun in a residence on Crater Lake Avenue. One of the three males detained there is a documented member of the Crips gang.

A third search turned up illegal drugs in a residence on Siskiyou Boulevard.

As long as the economy stays stagnant and jobs are few and far between, young men with few resources and poor prospects will be increasingly drawn by the lure of drug trafficking and the gang culture that is associated with it.

Increased police patrols should help keep a lid on public displays of gang activity, but neighbors should be on the alert as well.

Share This Story