Connell called Washington's safest city

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 3, 2014 

Eight Mid-Columbia cities have been ranked among the 50 safest cities in the state.

SafeWise released its list Monday of the 50 Safest Cities in Washington.

Connell came in at No. 1 and West Richland broke the top 10 at No. 6.

Richland was ranked No. 29, Prosser 33, Pasco 37 and Kennewick 48.

To compile the report, SafeWise used FBI crime data from 2012, population, and other factors, like unique safety initiatives and security programs.

Salt Lake City-based SafeWise reviews security systems, provides home security tips and publishes news about the security industry, according to the company's website.

Connell Mayor "Blacky" Blackwell was surprised, pleased and a little skeptical about his city sitting at the top of the list.

"Going through the press release SafeWise emailed me, my clerk and I kept seeing words like 'subscribe' and 'sign up here.' They're obviously selling their services," he said.

"But don't get me wrong, I really appreciate it and think it's a great thing for Connell. I think it's just awesome we're the best," he said.

The SafeWise release said West Richland is known for good schools and safe neighborhoods. The city's police officers take their job seriously and it shows with a 92 percent clearance rate on all violent crimes in 2012.

West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry said being on the list was "pretty cool and makes me feel good. We have a great community out here."

Gerry said the city's police department has a great relationship with citizens and is making an effort to help schools with programs to address bullying and peer pressure.

"Our community can be proud of that safety rating because it reflects the honesty and integrity of the citizens living in our city," he said.

Richland was ranked No. 29 because there were no murders and 11 robberies but Police Chief Chris Skinner said those numbers are from 2012.

"Yes, we didn't have any homicides that year but we did in 2013. Having said that, we definitely have at the core of our mission safety and service in Richland," he said.

"We work very, very hard to reduce crime and the fear of crime. That's central to creating a community that's desirable to live, work and play. That's our goal," the chief said.

There's more to having a safe and livable community than numbers. That's just one way to judge, Skinner said.

A press release from Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said Pasco's position on the list speaks to the community's efforts in reducing crime over the last 20 years.

"Since 1995, the crime rate in Pasco has dropped 70 percent, and the rate is now well below national and state averages," Metzger wrote.

Other Mid-Columbia cities on the list include College Place at 25 and Grandview 31.

To see the entire SafeWise report, go to www.safe wise.com and click on "newsroom."

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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