Ogden police report decrease in violent and drug-related crimes, thanks to task force

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OGDEN (ABC4 News) – The City of Ogden is getting safer, according to police and federal agents. They said it’s all thanks to a task force implemented two years ago to target violent and drug-related crimes.

Resident Jen Owens said she has mixed feelings when asked about crime in the area.

“I feel like break-ins and the use of deadly force are increasing. Gun crimes may be going down, but I feel like rape and other crimes are going up,” she said.

Antonio Ortiz, a lifelong Ogden resident, said the city has seen its fair share of crime. But since starting a family and raising his kids, he said it feels a lot safer.

“Honestly, the crime has gone down. I don’t see it as bad as it was growing up from middle school to high school. I actually feel safer, more comfortable with raising my kids and family here,” said Ortiz.

Another lifelong resident, Kaden Meredith felt the same way.

“It seems like crime has been down because not a lot of things happen out here. It’s not really a city to be worried about,” he said.

Officials attribute the crime decrease to Project Safe Neighborhoods, a partnership between local officers and federal agents to increase enforcement in a selected 4.86 square mile area. The area, consisting of 8,047 homes and 22,000 residents, was selected for its history of firearm and drug-related crimes.

“We had two terrible years in Utah where violent crime increases were of double-digit nature, two years in a row. That’s not what Utah is and that’s not what Utah should be,” said John Huber, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah at a press conference on Friday.

Authorities explained individuals targeted by PSN’s task force are higher-profile suspects who are sent to federal prison outside of Utah.

“They may not have personally have committed a large amount of crimes. But they have directed or managed a wide variety of crimes that happens all the way down to the street level. Because they become the target when we remove them, we destroy whole networks out there on the street,” said Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt.

Since its inception in 2017, officials said the PSN task force has accomplished the following:

  • 963 months of prison imposed (80.25 years)
  • 21 defendants sentenced (20 to prison, 1 on probation)
  • Average prison sentence is 48.15 months
  • Screened cases involving 164 individuals
  • 74 individuals have been charged
  • Another 90 are under review or have been declined
  • 115 weapons recovered as part of cases filed (including a grenade launcher, 78 pistols)
  • 34,656 grams of drugs seized, including 29,766 grams of meth
  • Decrease in shootings: In 2018, there were 93 shootings. By September 2018, there were 69 shootings. As of September 2019, there were 32 shootings.

“It has historically allowed us and enabled us, over the years to indict many of Weber County’s worst criminals and prosecute them in federal court and ultimately, remove them entirely from the community,” said Weber County Attorney Chris Allred.

Chief Watt said the improvements in safety and decrease in crime have been experienced by residents as well.

“What we’re seeing is a greater increase in comfort, safety, and security for the members of our community,” he said. “We’re seeing an increase in people attending special events. We’re seeing increased use of downtown. It’s beginning to change the age-old and untrue perceptive is that Ogden is crime central. Ogden has been rebranded itself in the last 20 years as a destination city for outdoor recreation.”

Officials said they will meet for reassessment to determine how to move forward in the project’s third and final year.

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