PORTLAND -- Sen. Ron Wyden said a cycle of gang violence stretching into its second generation in Oregon must stop.
He warned Thursday that cuts in Congress may end gang outreach programs in Portland, coming at a time when deaths and gunfire have erupted in the city.
There have been 16 gang-related shootings this year, three of them deadly.
On Thursday, Wyden, along with local leaders and police emphasized the need to protect these programs.
Wyden got a first-hand look Wednesday night on a ride-a-long with gang enforcement officers, as a KGW crew also rode along.
Officers warned that more than 700 known gang members are living in Portland and recently there has been a notable spike in gang violence.
This is something that has to stop, Wyden said. The spiral of gang violence moving from generation to generation in this community is unacceptable, and we are going to stay at it until we beat it.
While on patrol, Sen. Wyden encountered one man who suggested that police must reach out to young people before the age of ten. He said too often, he's seen teenagers who were corrupted at an early age by older gang members.
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One Portland program that could be impact4ed directly is the GREAT program which sends officers into schools in hopes of keeping kids out of gangs. The program's federal funding is now in jeopardy.