Monday , August 20, 2012 - 7:53 PM
OGDEN — Now that the Ogden Trece Injunction is permanent, completing a nearly two-year process, the question arises: Who’s next?
Officials have always talked about targeting more than one street gang with the experimental injunction approach. But they’ve withheld details until the first injunction was finalized.
The Trece injunction passed though its final major hoop Monday as 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones issued an order making it permanent, and Weber County Attorney Dee Smith offered this: Next could be plural.
“Potentially several,” he said. “Multiple gangs in one injunction is being considered. It’s been done in California.”
Smith said he couldn’t put a time frame on when a new injunction could be filed, beyond saying this year is not likely.
“It’s very time-intensive,” he said, noting the Trece injunction involved him and two other prosecutors working with Ogden gang detectives. “We’re discussing now what the next step is.”
Others wonder as well.
“There’s no question that the other gangs are afraid that they’re next,” Smith said.
The injunction is a first for Utah, banning the members of the city’s oldest street gang from associating with each other in public and being in the presence of guns, drugs and alcohol. The injunction also places Treces under an 11 p.m. curfew.
Three Ogden lawyers defending various Trece members and attorneys with the Utah ACLU Chapter have expected the ruling from Jones, promising to appeal citing constitutional concerns. But any ruling from a Utah appeals court could be a year or more away.
“Because Ogden Trece is a communitywide gang, the injunction is the only adequate remedy to this community problem,” Jones wrote in the 12-page ruling he issued Monday that drops the word “temporary” from the injunction he signed in September 2010.
“The court is not convinced that other means of reducing nuisance, such as RICO (federal racketeering prosecution) or an increase in law enforcement would be more effective in abating gang activity than the injunction,” Jones’ decision reads.
Writing on the Trece ban on public association, the judge said, “Associating together has been an integral part of the gang’s nuisance activity. The majority of the crimes committed by Ogden Trece were committed when gang members were associating with other members of the gang … there is no constitutional right to associate with others to engage in criminal activity or deprive others of their lawful rights.”
As to the gun ban, the decision notes, “this provision does not prohibit Ogden Trece members from hunting and it does not prevent them from having a firearm in their private home.
“It only prevents them from taking the gun into the public. This provision is necessary because plaintiffs have shown that an integral part of gang activity involves shooting at people, automobiles and homes.”
Even with Monday’s ruling, Ogden-Metro Gang Unit Lt. Scott Conley did not want to say which gang is the next target of an injunction.
“We’re not going to give anyone any notice that we’re coming at them next,” he said. “I’d rather not say, not yet. We’re looking at all criminal gang activity.”
He said at least 320 Treces have been served with the injunction, more than 80 percent of the gang’s membership.
Smith said Conley’s detectives and other officers have actually had members of other gangs ask them if they are the next subject of an injunction.
“We feel it’s affected all gang members that way,” he said. “They’re not as visible, not representing — wearing their colors, starting fights — because they don’t want to be next.”
But Randy Richards, representing several Trece members through much of the injunction process, said problems remain and he expects to be joined by the ACLU in appealing Jones’ decision.
“It’s just so overly broad and could include so many people, a huge group of people who could be disenfranchised from their protections under the Constitution,” Richards said.
Police make the decision who is a gang member without any judicial oversight, he said. “It’s totally at the discretion of the police.”
Sign up for e-mail news updates.