Police say Portland, Ore., gang violence is exploding. A landmark report shows just the opposite.
Turn on the TV news and you’d have reason to believe gang violence in Portland, Ore., is out of control. Terse warnings from police and fallout from three recent high-profile shootings have prompted alarming reports in the media of a recent surge in gang activity.
But amid the rhetoric and media heat, a far more complicated picture emerges when the numbers are examined.
Clay Mosher, a professor of sociology at WSU-Vancouver and author of a gang assessment for Clark County law enforcement in 2012, says various agencies label gang-related crime differently—and often liberally. “Most crimes committed by gang members are not committed for the gang. But they can get coded as a gang-related crime,” Mosher said.