Safest City, Yet Again!
“The men and women of the Irvine Police Department have again made the hard work of providing unparalleled community safety look easy. It is not; it comes only with a professionalism in everything they do,” Mayor Don Wagner said of the Safest City designation. “The city council and every citizen of Irvine, plus everyone who works or visits here, continue to owe a debt of gratitude to the IPD. Congratulations to them on this recognition and thank you for your dedication to duty.”
The information released for 2017 shows that Irvine has the lowest rate of violent crime per capita of any city in the nation with a population of 250,000 or more. This year, Irvine also had the lowest rate of total Part 1 crime for a city of its size. The FBI’s Annual Uniform Crime Report measures Part 1 crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft and arson.
“The safety of our city is truly a collaborative effort,” said Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel. “The dedicated men and women of the Irvine Police Department work tirelessly every day to keep our community safe. Our residents and members of the business community partner with IPD to prevent and help solve crime. Our city leaders have always made public safety a top priority, ensuring IPD has the resources necessary to provide only the highest level of service to the public. It is this comprehensive effort that has allowed Irvine to preserve the safety and quality of life our residents have long enjoyed,” Chief Hamel said.
It’s easy to become numb to the annual news that Irvine is one of, if not the safest city in the entire United States. When burglary suspects are arrested or the Irvine Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team rolls out to aid in the apprehension of a suspected cell phone thief hiding in a Quail Hill apartment, social media erupts with breathless accounts. We can count on NextDoor members to document every suspicious person or poorly parked car in our communities. In many ways, our connectivity and hyperawareness makes us susceptible to fear and anxiety.
Still, when was the last time you were afraid for your safety in the city? Other than driving, perhaps. Or reading NextDoor.
FBI statistics also played a large part in a report by SafeWise, an online safety resource that determined the 50 safest cities in California. Irvine is the safest city in Orange County, according to the report, and fourth safest in the state, behind only Danville (population 44,631), Murrieta (pop. 111,674) and San Ramon (pop. 75,639).
To compile this report, SafeWise analysts reviewed the most recent 2016 FBI crime statistics and census population data. The evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery) in each city per 1,000 people. If there was a tie, they also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and car theft).
With 266,663 residents, violent crimes in Irvine accounted for only .57 per 1000 people, and property crimes accounted for 14.01 per 1000. The total crimes for that year were 4.07% violent crime, and 95.93% property related crime.
Orange County cities that made the top 50 include Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Mission Viejo in the top 10, while Rancho Santa Margarita (13), Laguna Niguel (14), Fountain Valley (21), and San Clemente (25) rounded out the top half of the charts for civic safety. Cypress (32,), Lake Forest (33), Newport Beach (34), Placentia (47), Tustin (49) also made the top 50 safest cities to live in the state
In a separate report, SafeWise also named the safest college towns in the country. To be included in the study, cities needed to have more than 15,000 residents and be home to an accredited college that offered four-year degrees. Rankings were based on the incidence of violent crime per capita using the most recent FBI crime report for each city that met the criteria.
Irvine was listed as the tenth-safest college town in the country.
The nine college towns ranked higher than Irvine are mostly sleepy and small, with populations under 60,000, some well under:
2. Deerfield, Illinois
3. Rexburg, Idaho
4. Upper Dublin Township, Pennsylvania
5. Wellesley, Massachusetts
6. Princeton, New Jersey
7. Newton, Massachusetts
8. Alpharetta, Georgia
9. Smithfield, Rhode Island
10. Irvine, California
The SafeWise report on Irvine notes, “home to over a quarter million people, it’s extraordinary to see Irvine round out our top ten safest college cities. While some lifelong residents worry that more people equals more crime, the numbers still work out in Irvine’s favor. Despite the population, your chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in this growing California city is just 0.57 per 1,000 people.”
The online version of the story linked to a 2017 OC Register story that shows crime in Irvine has gone down as the city has grown: “The chances of Irvine residents becoming a crime victim in recent years are lower than ever — at least according to data — and that’s consistent with declining crime rates nationwide since the early 1990s.”
“‘I’ve heard people say it’s getting worse and there’s just no evidence of that,” said John Hipp, professor of criminology at UC Irvine. “It’s a very safe city, I’ll say that.’”
“His analysis of historical FBI data of reported crimes shows Irvine’s per capita violent and property crime rates have decreased since 1975, when the city had just over 30,000 residents.”
The story went on to note that TV news and social media may be to blame for people feeling crime is on the increase.