Rob Ingram is a successful, well-respected professional who works for the city of Portland. But a couple of decades ago, that career would have seemed completely unattainable. He says until his mid-20’s he might as well have been a member of a gang. His brother and friends were, and he did many of the same things they did. He’s been stabbed, shot, and arrested. He buried eight close friends and family members. His life-changing epiphany came after his brother was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
He ultimately decided there must have been a reason that he was still alive and free, and that he had a responsibility to give back. And that’s what he’s been doing since the early 1990s. He now heads the Office of Youth Violence Prevention at the City of Portland. And he informally mentors kids who call him “Uncle Rob.”
About every other week he convenes a meeting with all the various agencies and organizations the city works with to address gang violence. There are community organizations like Brother’s & Sister’s Keepers, the Gang Enforcement Team and a youth gang police task force that’s just been reinstated.
We wanted to know how all those efforts are working. And about another development since the last time we talked about gangs and efforts to reduce gun violence: Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice has a plan to use GPS monitoring on some youths who have been involved in gangs. How do all of these strategies fit into the larger picture of addressing gang violence?
Have you been affected by gang violence? How? Have you ever thought about joining a gang? Why? Are you working to prevent gang violence? What would help you do your job?
- Juan Carlos: 18-year-old former gang member
- Valerie: 20-year-old former gang member
- Dave Koch: Juvenile services division director for Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice
- Rob Ingram: Director of the City of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention