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Beaverton chief to lead new regional gang busters

Violent street gangs attempting to establish themselves in the region have been warned.

They will not be tolerated, and their actions will be under close scrutiny.

Members of a new Metropolitan Gang Task Force this week launched a unique partnership to combat gang problems and rid streets of gang violence.

The task force will work to detect and apprehend gang members and their leaders by gathering and sharing information and expertise among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

'Formation of this new task force will provide us with more resources to do things we've never been able to do before at this level,' said Beaverton Police Chief David G. Bishop, chairman of the task force's board of directors. 'It will improve coordination between local, state and federal agencies and allow us to take organized gangsters off the street.

'We were able to take this next step to broaden our enforcement efforts because of the cooperation that already exists among law enforcement agencies.'

Bishop was selected to serve in his leadership role by the board which includes representatives from police departments in Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Portland and Vancouver as well as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, four district attorneys and the U.S. attorney for Oregon.

In addition to Bishop's involvement, Beaverton Police Sgt. John Gruber will also serve as a leader in the task force.

Portland-area gang officers believe that to combat the gang problem effectively, officers must be able to track and investigate gangs in the four-county area.

'Gangs don't care about state lines or city limits; this task force erases the boundaries, so law enforcement can work together to reduce gang-related crime,' said Special Agent in Charge Kelvin N. Crenshaw, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Formation of the regional group was prompted by ongoing discussions among local and federal law enforcement agencies about growing gang-related issues.

'Gangs are not only a problem in our communities, they are a major problem in our country,' Bishop said.

Tackling gang-related violence is a priority of the federal Department of Justice under the Project Safe Neighborhoods gun violence reduction initiative.

Portland FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jordan anticipates that the task force will establish links to cases of national interest and provide a conduit to coordinate gang-related intelligence nationwide through the National Gang Intelligence Center.

The task force is also charged with the task of identifying and addressing violent street gangs attempting to establish themselves in the region.

To accomplish its goals, the task force will rely heavily on the information gathered by the Interagency Gang Enforcement Teams on both the east and west sides of the metropolitan area.

'They have the pulse of the streets,' Bishop said. 'It's critical to utilize their training, experience and expertise as we work together to combat the problem.'

The task force will also rely on the support of the communities it serves.

'The fact is the community is our eyes and ears,' Bishop said. 'We all need to work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.'

The task force will be housed at Portland Police Bureau's Northeast Precinct.