Cop talks knocking down violent crime in Ballpark Neighborhood

Feb 21, 2024, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:56 pm

crime Ballpark...

Two men have been arrested that police say were involved with a shooting in Salt Lake City's Ballpark Neighborhood. (KSL TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown announced recently that violent crime in the Ballpark Neighborhood had dropped 32% in 2023.

Scott Mourtgos, deputy chief for SLCPD, explained to KSL NewsRadio how the department’s crime-fighting strategy worked.

He said the approach is not just about increasing the police presence inside a particular crime-infested area.

“It’s about being strategic about identifying and addressing different crime patterns as well as working with businesses and communities with different approaches,” Mourtgos said. “It’s a wide-reaching, evidence-based approach that we’ve put into place over the past two years … We’re seeing a lot of success.”

Law of Crime Concentration

Mourtgos said police officers focused their energy and efforts on a specific area within the Ballpark Community. These areas are crime hotspots. It’s called the Law of Crime Concentration, according to Mourtgos.

“I don’t care what city you go to in America,” he said. “You’re gonna find approximately 5% of streets, in any given city, are going to account for 50% of the crime within that city.”

Mourtgos continued, saying the department focuses on using its resources to concentrate on areas with higher crime rates.

Additionally, Mourtgos said, there are also crime-prone people in the neighborhood.

“There is a small amount of people that are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the crime in any community,” he said. “We try to focus in on those individuals that are the most problematic because if you do, if you are able to get them into jail and ostensibly keep them in jail, then, yeah, that can have an effect on crime as well.”

Ballpark Community Council Chairwoman Amy Hawkins said some of the neighborhood’s most notorious businesses have closed their doors or changed ownership.

For example, in November 2023 a low-budget motel closed.

One of the bright spots was the closing of “the most notorious” convenience store in the area, according to Hawkins. It was known to be a site of drug dealing throughout the valley.

“It changed ownership, thanks to the efforts of one of our most dedicated police officers,” Hawkins said.

When crime drops in the Ballpark Neighborhood, does it move to other areas?

Some crimes are driven from one area to the next through crime-reduction efforts, Mourtgos said. However, not all crimes plaguing one neighborhood will move to another.

“It’s not as if … you’re gonna have 10 crimes here in this one area, and we’re moving all 10 crimes to another area,” he said. “We see some displacement, in the sense that, well now it’s only 7 crimes that have moved to the other area rather than the 10. So, you’re still seeing an overall reduction, even though you do tend to get some displacement, but it’s not a one-for-one.”

Related: Council chairwoman talks fighting crime in Ballpark Neighborhood

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Cop talks knocking down violent crime in Ballpark Neighborhood