Property and violent crimes in Ogden decreased by nearly 20 percent from 2017 to 2018, the largest drop in city history, officials announced at a Wednesday news conference.
Police Chief Randy Watt said it’s hard to point to a single reason for the dip shown by statistics for Part 1 crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, theft and arson. He said the drop could be a result of the police department reviewing and changing its practices after a nearly 11 percent increase in those types of crimes from 2015 into 2016.
Or, he said, Ogden being selected in April as pilot city for the Project Safe Neighborhood program, which allocates federal resources to help curb crime, could have played a role.
It also may have something to do with the presidency, he said.
“We know that the strengthening of our national economy and the historic low unemployment rates as a result of the efforts of the national administration, have an effect on reducing crimes,” he said.
Data shows property crimes had the most dramatic decrease, with a 21 percent dip from 4,118 to 3,257. Violent crimes decreased 7 percent, from 401 to 370.
U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber, who heads the state’s Project Safe Neighborhood initiatives, commended Ogden city leaders at the news conference for the reduction in crime, noting that Ogden is a city “where historically crime has been a problem.”
“There are some who believe that crime is like the tide, that it ebbs and flows according to the dictates of the moon. That is wrong," he said. “We can plant a flag down and set a goal to turn back violent crime and achieve success — and that is what we’re reporting together today.”
Since Project Safe Neighborhood began operations in Ogden in April, federal officials have seized 56 firearms and 55 pounds of drugs, mostly methamphetamine, from criminals, he said.
Huber said to keep crime rates low, officials must do more than arrest criminals. They must also address underlying contributors to crime, such as drug addiction.
Watt told reporters “the timing is interesting" that city officials were making their announcement as police were investigating a recent homicide, the Monday fatal shooting of an 18-year-old.
“Ogden has a history. Ogden is one of the major cities in Utah and has the demographics where crime does exist. It’s an unfortunate tragic circumstance, especially for the family involved, but it is the nature of reality in a major city,” he said.
“And we will continue to make an effort to combat the underlying conditions which have left to this type of a situation.”