OGDEN -- The Ogden Trece Injunction appears to be working, taking the bang out of gang-banging and nocturnal trouble-making.
Pre- and post-injunction statistics released for the first time at the injunction's trial Tuesday show gang crime is down in the city, while officials testify Trece members are not out and about like they used to be.
The injunction, in place since September 2010, is a first for Utah after some success in California, but little use elsewhere. The injunction bans Treces from associating with each other in public, being in the vicinity of guns, drugs or alcohol or out past an 11 p.m. curfew.
"They're not rolling around wild in the streets anymore," Detective Anthony Powers, the Trece expert in the Ogden-Metro Gang Unit, testified Tuesday.
"They're not 'mobbing' anymore, as they call it, where they just sit in their cars looking for trouble."
Powers said a lot of gang crime is retaliatory -- every drive-by shooting he has investigated was in retaliation for a drive-by shooting -- and when Trece activity is down, that of other gangs goes down as well.
Powers said a member of a Trece rival gang told him that "now when they go out, they're not getting hit by their rivals, Trece. So they don't have to 'represent' (stand up for their gang). I've had another tell me the streets are dead."
Dave Weloth, a retired police detective and current crime analyst for the Ogden Police Department, presented numbers for gang activity in the city showing a decline.
The tables from 2007 through the first three months of this year show the monthly average for violent gang crime at 6.3 now, compared to 11.2 last year. He said the figures could not be broken down by individual gang.
But Mike Junk, chief prosecutor for Ogden city, testified the injunction has had a huge impact on Treces, most dramatically in the downtown shopping area, The Junction.
"It used to be I would see weekly crimes coming out of The Junction," he said. "But since the injunction, crime has virtually dried up there."
Before the injunction, he said, Treces congregating at the 13-theater Megaplex in the Junction presented a regular problem of misdemeanor assaults and criminal mischief cases -- fights and property damage.
But that has been solved by the injunction keeping Treces from congregating together in public, Junk said. "We've had very few crimes in that area since the injunction took effect, and we hardly see any Treces there anymore."
Violation of the injunction is a misdemeanor, meaning the cases are filed in the Justice Court, which Junk and three assistant prosecutors staff.
As a misdemeanor court, most defendants appear pro se, meaning they don't hire lawyers, Junk said. As a result, he said he gets to chat with defendants directly in court.
Junk said he has noticed a subtle change in the Treces, with 140-plus cases filed so far.
At first, Junk said, it was almost a badge of honor to be charged under the injunction.
"Then there was an 'acting dumb' phase. They'd say, 'I thought the curfew was midnight,' or 'I thought it was OK to associate with my cousin, I thought cousins were OK.'
"Now they're telling me they are no longer part of the gang. They're disassociating with the gang. I've seen that shift. Clearly, there's been an effect with the injunction."
This week's trial is required to determine if the preliminary injunction will become a permanent injunction. The trial reconvenes Thursday morning in 2nd District Court.