OGDEN — The U.S. Department of Justice recognized the Ogden Police Department and Chief Randy Watt for their efforts to make the city’s neighborhoods safer.

U.S. Attorney John Huber presented Watt the Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program award Tuesday. The awards are usually presented at a national ceremony, but were handed out locally this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watt targeted a 5-square-mile downtown area for a police “surge” starting in April 2018 because of its history of gun and drug problems. It includes 8,047 households and more than 22,000 Ogden and Weber County residents. Police seized 181 firearms, including one grenade launcher, 128 pistols, 15 revolvers, 23 rifles and 14 shotguns, as part of the federally funded initiative.

Huber said Watt’s forward thinking in targeting a specific area and working with Project Safe Neighborhoods made the target area a success. He said prosecutors have heard offenders arrested in the initiative saying: “Don’t get caught in the Box.”

“His success in crime suppression and prevention has made Ogden a model for other cities to use in addressing violent crime issues,” Huber said.