For the third year running, Irvine tops all large cities in the nation with the lowest incidence of violent crime after posting a nearly 17 percent drop in 2006, according to a report by the FBI.
Reported violent crimes for the city – which include homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault – fell from a total of 151 in 2005 to 126 in 2006, for a rate of 67 per 100,000 in the preliminary posting of the 2006 FBI Annual Uniform Crime Report.
"We're humbled to be recognized as America's safest city," Irvine Police Chief David L. Maggard Jr. said. "I'm inspired every day by the outstanding work exhibited by the committed professionals of the Irvine Police Department."
So how does Irvine do it? How do they stay so safe? What's the secret to their success? Follow me down below...
(Cross-posted at Calitics)
So for a city of about 200,000 people, how the heck does Irvine stay so safe? Is it the geographic policing? Is this actually creating a "higher level of commitment between officers and community members"? Is it the neighborhood alert program? Is this actually helping people get to know their neighbors, and helping them watch out for each other? Is it the WatchMail program? Can the internet actually be used as a tool to reduce crime in the community? Whatever they are doing, the Crime Prevention Unit of the Irvine Police Department is proving to be quite effective.
And clearly, it seems like Irvine has enough patrol officers to cover the entire community. And perhaps now that the Irvine Police Department now does "geographic policing", officers really are connecting more with the community. And maybe, their Crime Analysis Unit is having some effect. Perhaps by finding out what had gone wrong, they can then work with the community to make things right. Whatever is happening, the Irvine Police Department must be doing something right.
And clearly Irvine's Progressive Mayor and Police Chief know how tough it can be to keep such a big city so safe. Yet for the last three years, they have been remarkably successful in leading the way not just for Orange County, and not just California, but for the entire nation. From The OC Register:
"When you are the safest city in America, you have to work especially hard to maintain that position," Irvine Mayor Beth Krom said. "This is a source of pride for the entire community." [...]
"Getting to know the people who live and work in these areas helps them to be able to identify the problems in these areas and any impacts on the quality of life," said Irvine Police Chief David L. Maggard.
And how has Irvine been able to avoid what the other major cities in Orange County are suffering from?
The national crime trends were largely echoed in Orange County, with all eight cities with populations of 100,000 or above recording increases in robberies, and a sharp decline in property crime.
There were 19 more murders in Orange County's biggest cities in 2006 than the previous year – a jump that can be largely result of a spike in gang violence in Santa Ana, which recorded nine more murders in 2006.
However, car thefts, arsons and other property crimes dipped across the nation for the second straight year, the data show. Huntington Beach – which saw a 12.6 percent drop in violent crime – was the only large Orange County city to see a rise in property crime, recording 365 more property crimes last year compared to 2005.
Huntington Beach must now worry about property crime becoming more prevalent throughout town. Santa Ana is now facing a crisis of escalating gang violence. Up in North Orange County, the cities of Orange and Fullerton are grappling with dramatic increases in violent crisis. Take a look at the major California cities on the FBI's list, and things aren't looking very good not just in OC, but throughout the state.
So what is Irvine doing right that other cities in California aren't? Are Irvine's police services that much better? Are they doing a better job of preventing crime? Are the parks and community services really making that much of a difference? There's a secret to Irvine's success, and more communities should try to learn this secret to figure out how to take a real bite out of crime.