The people identified by Ogden police as gang “members” and “associates” are mostly young Hispanic men.
Much beyond that description, though, there isn’t a lot of publicly available data that shows the state of Ogden’s gang culture today or much about Ogden Trece specifically.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office, the Ogden Police Department, the Ogden mayor and many of the city’s residents say they believe there’s been a recent increase in gang-related crime. But so far, there is no publicly available crime data to support that notion.
County attorney Chris Allred is calling for another gang injunction like the one implemented from 2010 to 2013. It was used to curb gang crimes by, among many things, prohibiting certain members of the Ogden Trece gang from gathering in public, drinking alcohol or possessing firearms within most of Ogden city limits.
The news that the tactic might be implemented again have some concerned that the measure is over broad and a violation of basic civil rights. Others say Ogden Police wrongly identified people as Trece members before. The Utah Supreme Court ultimately struck down the injunction based on a technicality of how it was served. Allred has said if he can start another injunction, it would again be against Ogden Trece and, other than serving it, would work almost exactly as it did before.
Requests made by the Standard-Examiner to the Ogden Police Department in September and October to get more detailed information about Ogden Trece’s specific demographics and gang-related crimes have so far been unsuccessful. Some of the key items in those requests:
- How many people are known to be in Trece?
- What are the known demographics of the gang? (Age, race/ethnicity and sex)
- How many crimes have been tied to gang members in the past 15 years?
- What kinds of crimes are tied to gang activity? (For example, how many murders in the past 15 years are known to be gang related or what percentage of property crimes has been deemed as gang related?)
The department is either working to gather or declined to provide data for each of those questions. Demographic information pertaining to Ogden Trece was not released but the department did provide general information from its gang database. The database keeps track of every known gang member in the city, from motorcycle gangs to street gangs, as identified by officers.
Ogden City police have identified one percent of the city’s population — 898 people — as gang “members” or “associates.”
More reporting related to the gang injunction (story continues below):
• RELATED: Why does Ogden have a gang problem?
Law enforcement officials don’t seem to know how many members there are in Ogden Trece. At various points since legal action was taken against the injunction in September 2010, they’ve cited around 500, 350 and 238 Trece members.
To be put in the database, members must either admit to gang affiliation or meet two other criteria on a police list of eight qualifiers. If an individual only meets one criteria on the list, police enter them into the database as “associates.” It takes five years of no police contact for an individual to be purged from the gang database.
(For the criteria police use to determine gang membership, see the bottom of the article.)
Ogden’s Trece injunction would only include members of the Trece gang, not associates, according to Assistant Chief Eric Young.
The average age of gang members and associates is 31 and the median age is 30, although ages in the database range from 16 to 62. Males are nearly eight times more likely to be in the database than females.
The starkest divide shown by the database is the racial and ethnic makeup of known members. While Hispanics make up 30 percent of Ogden’s general population, they make up 52 percent of the people listed in the gang database. Whites account for 37 percent of the gang database but around 64 percent of the city’s total population. Black individuals represent over six percent of the gang database, but only two percent of Ogden’s total population.
Mayor Mike Caldwell said he doesn’t think Ogden’s gang problem is unique compared to cities of similar sizes.
“I think gangs are a problem all over, just like drugs are a problem all over,” he said. “Ogden has had a much bigger gang problem in the past. But communities of any significant size have issues with gangs and drugs.”
Caldwell said he supports another injunction in the city. He said a “silent majority” of the city’s citizens do, too.
“It was just another tool (police) had in their toolbox so they could get involved in some of those areas, (where) you have people who we’ll call ‘frequent fliers’ that are consistently causing huge problems all the time, victimizing people,” he said.
Story continues below images
Ogden police also provided a map of the “safe zone” (the areas enjoined people can’t gather with other known gang members) from the last injunction. While police said the boundaries did not extend to the East Bench and Newgate Mall areas of the city, the map shows that the only area excluded from injunction appears to be the Weber State University area.
On Sept. 29, the Standard-Examiner also requested statistics specifically on gang-related crimes that occurred before, during and after the injunction. Ogden Police say they are working to gather that information from their computer systems. General crime numbers provided by the police department since 2002 showed no statistically significant change during the injunction.
Crime overall in Ogden appears to be on pace with the rest of the country — it has been falling for years. Violent crime has remained steady since 2002.
But Caldwell said the injunction made a difference in the city.
“When it went away, it did embolden some of that activity we were trying curtail,” he said. “There have been cases in the past in Ogden where these groups were very bold. They’d go to places were people were playing soccer and take over, kind of intimidate people, regular families and citizens, and that’s something we don’t want to see with any group.”
Caldwell said police are actively working to compile numbers on gang crimes, partly to show they need another gang injunction to keep the city safe.
“The software isn’t set up to pull it in a clean format,” he said. “They have to go through and double-check to make sure it’s correct, so they’re doing that right now. That information will be available.”
The mayor also said that while injunctions have proven to be effective tools in other cities, they’re not a “magic bullet” in solving any city’s gang problems. Caldwell also supports outreach programs for marginalized groups and youth programs to keep kids in school and off the street.
“Everyone wants to live in a place where no crime happens, that’s the ideal. But that’s just not realistic,” he said. “You do what you can with the resources you have. Our goal is to make this the safest community possible. Gangs can be a big agitator in that.”
Criteria for Gang Membership
- Admits to criminal street gang membership
Or two of the following:
- Is identified as a gang member by a parent or guardian
- Is identified as gang member by a documented, reliable informant
- Resides in or frequents a gang area, adopts their style of dress, hand signs or tattoos and associates with know gang members
- Is identified as a gang member by an informant of previous untested reliability and such identification is corroborated by independent information
- Was arrested with gang members for offenses consistent with usual criminal street gang activity
- Is identified as a criminal gang member by physical evidence, such as photographs or other documentation
- Was stopped in company of known criminal street gang members more than two times.
Source: Weber County vs. Ogden Trece court transcripts