The current rise in gang-relatedviolence in Keizer must be addressed and stopped before it escalates further.

McNary High School was locked down last week due to an off-campus assault that was too close to the school. Reports are heard of gang violence in the halls of the high school itself.

The public should be concerned and demand that the police department tackle this menace. While gang violence may start as a one-on-one fight, bystanders can find themselves caught in the middle of a turf war. There are too many examples of innocent people being wounded—or killed—by an errant bullet.  Or are victims of mistaken identity. Gang violence is not isolated amongst the members.

What would be especially troubling is if the violence explodes at the high school. Fistfights are one thing but if someone brings a gun to school to settle a score, the damage could be tragic. No parent wants to receive a phone call that their child was accidently shot at school for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is no right place or right time for violence, especially in or near our schools. It is easy to think that Keizer is immune to the type of gang violence that afflicts larger cities. The assault in the Walgreen’s parking lot last week demonstrates that it does happen here.

The Keizer Police Department and Chief John Teague must assure Keizer residents that it has identified the gangs and its members and is doing what is necessary—within legal limits—to rein them in. When gang violence spills over into everyday life  the city suffers. We can’t be known as a quaint small city with a gang problem. We can’t have residents afraid of driving through particular parts of town. We can’t have students at school looking over their shoulders afraid of being caught in a fight that is not their own.

The police must enforce Measure 11 statutes.  Measure 11, passed in 1994, mandates minimum sentencing for crimes including assault and murder. Keizer’s gang-related crimes in the mid-1990s decreased due to that measure.

Chief John Teague was a member of the Keizer Police Department in the 1990s; he has a historial knowledge of how to combat gang violence  here.  The department must use the resources it has and the aid of  law-abiding citizens to reduce gant violence.

The public expects government to keep them safe. The city must keep Keizer’s streets safe.