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‘Violence all over the place’

April 3, 2017

"Violence is rising a lot. I've seen a lot more violence occurring lately. It's sad/scary to see more and more violence issues pop up everyday. I'm becoming scared of a place that I called my home for so long."

— a response to the question "What is the worst thing about Ogden?"
 
 
 
The title and quote above are quotes from people who responded to a survey about Ogden. 
 
A word cloud from the survey was created based off the question "what's the first thing you think of when you think of Ogden." It indicates some, um, complex feelings about the city. It’s hard not to notice the three most prominent words: “home,” “mountains” and “ghetto.”
 
Two of those words are pretty matter-of-fact. “Ghetto,” on the other hand, is harder to trace. We can assume it indicates poverty and crime; it might be commentary on the city’s appearance or infrastructure.
 
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Of course all that is in the eye of the beholder.
 
If we only look within state lines, Ogden's rough reputation might seem obvious. If, for example, a respondent grew up or lives in the Orem/Provo area, he might say Ogden is a violent place. For being the third-largest city in Utah, Provo has an exceptionally low number of reported crimes, according to stats from the Department of Justice annual reports. The DOJ reports track four violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and four nonviolent crimes (burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, arson).
 
(Ogden, by the way, comes in at Utah's seventh largest city.)
 
Put another way, if Provo and Ogden both had populations of 100,000 people, an average year would look like the following:

 

 

 

 
Salt Lake City's crime is opposite Provo's. If we break down the populations in the same way, SLC has far more incidents per capita.

 

 

 

 
It's important to note that Ogden's crime index* has declined, even as the city's population has grown.

 

 

 

Below, crimes are broken down by per capita and split up between violent and nonviolent crimes.
 
 
 

 
 
Obviously, this is a broad description of crime and it couldn't fully explain a person's sense of security. About 43 percent of more than 600 people who took a survey said they feel very unsafe or "more unsafe than safe" in Ogden. Then again almost an equal number said the opposite. The survey questions asking for opinions reveal many people use vague terms to describe problems, such as "gangs," "violence," "crime," and "drugs" but few cite specific instances. While we still have plenty to explore when it comes to crime, this snapshot gives a brief idea of the connection between the size of a town, its crime and how a reputation built over years lingers for just as long.
 
 

 
 
 
*Crime index = all the DOJ reported crimes combined