Gangs and crime ride into town on MAX, survey finds

Gangs and crime ride into town on MAX, survey finds »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new survey suggests the Green MAX line is shuttling gang members and crime from Portland to Clackamas.

The majority of the survey is based on interviews with members of law enforcement across Clackamas County, which includes about 10 different agencies.

Most of the officers and deputies interviewed said not only have they seen a spike in gang-related crime during the past couple years, but they said it's no coincidence the spike in crime came about the same time the Green line came to town in September 2009.

Those interviewed for the survey said they've seen more signs of gang activity like graffiti, tagging and drug dealing in the past two years. They said many of those gang members are from out of town or often have ties to gangs in the Portland area.

The survey was conducted by a division of the Oregon Department of Justice at the request of Clackamas County to help assess the gang threat in the county. The people behind the survey conceded that the information gathered was limited because most gang activity is not documented consistently.

Officials with a number of the law enforcement agencies cited in the survey, including the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and the Milwaukie Police Department, said gang crime is a concern, but they do not have specific crime data to back up the survey's findings.

But Milwaukie resident Zach Adams said he doesn’t need the statistics to know things have changed. He rides the Green line to work every day.

"It seems like since the Green line started a lot more trouble has come out this direction from Portland," he said. "Clackamas used to be a nicer place and now it's a lot of graffiti and more fights out here than there used to be."
    
A spokesperson with TriMet said the Green line is safe, and there are 25,000 trips on that line every day with very few incidents reported.

The Green line picks up passengers at the Lloyd Center, goes downtown to Portland State University, to Clackamas and back again.