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Federal, Local Partnership Reduces Major Crimes In Ogden, Officials Say

OGDEN, Utah – Ogden’s Project Safe Neighborhoods has helped decrease the rate of major crimes in the city by 20%, according to officials.

One year into the project’s implementation, local, state and federal leaders declared victory Friday in the efforts to reduce major crimes around downtown Ogden.

“That highlights taking the game to the bad guys; not waiting for them to victimize us on the street corner,” said U.S. Attorney for Utah John W. Huber. “We’ll figure out what they’re up to and will use the authority and the tools that we have to take the game to them.”

In a press conference Friday, dozens of guns and large packets of confiscated drugs were on display to give an idea of what’s been taken off the streets over the past first year of the program.

“We’re seeing increased numbers and use of downtown,” said Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt. “We’re seeing great impact in effectiveness and we’re beginning to change the age-old and untrue perception that Ogden is crime-central.”

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide program that pours money and resources into designated high-crime areas. For Ogden, the focus has been in a five square-mile area around 21st Street. Huber said “Part I” crimes, which are some of the most violent felonies, are down 20% in the city overall. Combined task forces monitor habitual offenders and ultimately seek prosecution through federal charges.

“With court authority, we monitor suspected criminals who are drug-trafficking and pouring dangerous drugs into Ogden City,” Huber said.

Watt said with more offenders heading out-of-state to serve sentences in federal prisons, the hope is that fewer of them will come back to Utah after release.

“Federal statistics show that the further away they go, and the longer the sentence, the greater the likelihood of no return to their original jurisdiction,” Watt said.

While the program only runs three years at a time in each city, Huber said local law enforcement can hopefully keep crime down by maintaining similar strategies.

“The surge that we’re able to do here is what’s limited in time and money,” Huber said. “But we think the principles here are not dependent on money and grants. We can apply these same principles through training and commitment in other communities in Utah.”