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Think Out Loud

Confronting Northwest Gangs

Pete Springer/OPB

a href=””>Vancouver, Washington and Caldwell, Idaho have a great many differences. One is an urban center north of densely populated Portland. The other a fairly small city in a relatively rural area. But in both places, people have been grappling with gang-related violence. In Caldwell, the sergeant in charge of street crimes says it couldn’t have gotten much worse than in the summer of 2004 when he says there were 130 shootings in one month. He says some people were sleeping in their bathtubs because they were afraid of the drive-by shootings. Seven years later — with considerable help from the federal government — the problem has been contained, but he says he does not see a time when gangs will not be a problem. Vancouver has its share of gang activity — including one recent case that’s still unsolved. And we’ll also check in on how effective some of Portland’s efforts have been in reducing gang violence.

Have you been affected by gang activity in your community? Have you been involved in gang violence? Do you work with former gang members or youth who are at risk of becoming involved in gangs? What works to prevent gang violence?


  • Kristian Foden-Vencil: OPB News reporter
  • Alfonso Santos: Former gang member
  • Sergeant Joey Hoadley: Investigation sergeant assigned to the street crimes unit of the Caldwell Police Department
  • Cynthia Powers: Resident of the Harney Heights neighborhood in Vancouver
  • Joe Walsh: Coordinator of the Safe Communities Task Force in Clark County


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