OGDEN -- The city's continuing decline in homicides is reaching historic proportions.
With a fatal shooting in July looking likely to be ruled accidental, it's approaching a year or more without a homicide in Ogden, depending on interpretation of the definition.
The last case, still unsolved, was in December, an auto homicide that resulted when an elderly transient was run over on Wall Avenue.
The last premeditated hands-on killing looks to be a child homicide in January 2010, for which the infant's mother, Jewell Hendricks, was sent to prison Sept. 9.
Last year's third homicide was also an automobile homicide, officials said, with the case still pending in 2nd District Court.
Police Chief Jon Greiner said department statistics show that it has been 13 years since Ogden has gone more than seven months without a homicide.
And the last year with double-digit homicides was 2001 with 11. This for a city that saw years in the 1980s with 20 or more killings prosecuted.
Investigation of the shooting July 13 of a transient, Tony Lamont Hairston, 42, on a porch near 29th Street and Adams Avenue is still under investigation, with a suspect identified.
But officials say privately it appears likely to be ruled accidental and it's unclear if charges will be filed. The suspect has since been sent to prison on a parole violation tied to prior drug charges.
"It could be a record," Greiner said of the current homicide-free span. "I almost hate to say anything, even though I'm not really superstitious."
He credits much of the success to the department's Crime Reduction Unit, in place since Nov. 1, 2007.
The unit focuses on Ogden's inner city, something of a haven for parolees and probationers seeking lower rents and generally defined as the area between 20th and 30th streets and Adams Avenue and Harrison Boulevard.
"Part of this is getting a handle on our probationers and parolees, as well as identifying issues with the gang culture," Greiner said.
He also lauded the Ogden Trece injunction, in place one year as of Sept. 27, for hindering the public activities of the city's oldest street gang.
Weber County Attorney Dee Smith agrees, saying, "The Trece injunction is one of several factors that has helped in the drop in homicides."
Dee also points to the Crime Reduction Unit as an example of the Ogden Police Department's "proactive law enforcement techniques."
His office has cross-designated Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles as a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office to move cases involving gun possession into federal court, where penalties are stiffer.
As a result, for several years, felons found in possession of firearms, drug cases involving firearms, and other gun cases have more easily been moved to federal court, Smith said.
"We've been able to get some lengthy sentences," he said. "They serve so much more time under the federal guidelines than they ever would in state court, up to 20 years."
Some simple cases of a felon in possession of a firearm have brought sentences of five and 10 years, Smith said. "And those defendants are the highest risks to commit a murder."
Such cases move the criminal out of Ogden, as well as out of the state, he said, because Utah has no federal prison.