Walla Walla Valley Tackles Gang Crime Together - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla Valley Tackles Gang Crime Together

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Every law enforcement agency in the Walla Walla Valley is working together to fight gang crime. Graffiti, drug trafficking and drive-by shooting have been on the up tick for a couple of years. But just as criminals ignore jurisdictional boundaries, the sheriff's office and all the police chiefs there are stepping over their city limits and county lines, too.

"We're at a crossroad. We can invest the time and the effort to protect and preserve our community or we can pay for it later," said Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner.

Turner's 24 deputy crew covers 1,300 square miles and beyond. Walla Walla, College Place and even Milton-Freewater, Oregon all share the same criminals and crimes.

"We get a lot of spillover from both the county and the city of Walla Walla and some from Milton-Freewater. I'm sure they get some of ours," said College Place Police Chief Dennis Lepiane.

"Their criminal activity occurs throughout the Walla Walla Valley and we want to make sure that we're all working together," said Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber.

The agencies are all working together now on a gang enforcement strategic initiative to fight back against the some 500 gang members, associates or affiliates in the Walla Walla Valley.

 

"This kind of puts on paper and articulates what we all believe we have been doing or trying to do or should be doing," said Milton-Freewater Police Chief Doug Boedigheimer.

The plan has three main goals to combat gang activity, focusing on prevention, intervention and enforcement.

"But through this gang initiative strategy, what we're really trying to do is use our enforcement powers, taking that zero tolerance stand on gang and gang activity in our community, to use that as part of the prevention," Sheriff Turner said.

These agencies are all coming together at a time when most of them are short staffed, making it even more paramount they work together.

Once the strategic plan is officially rolled out there will be a zero tolerance policy in the Walla Walla Valley for all violent crimes and things like drug trafficking.

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