St. George ranks sixth in ‘safest city’ study; relationship between citizens, police gets credit

Composit image with background stock image of St. George; 2018 overlay image by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — St. George ranked in the middle of a top 12 list of safest cities in Utah according to an analysis released last week using data compiled by the FBI.

The analysis was conducted by AdvisorSmith – a research and consulting firm that specializes in compiling data used by business owners to determine the safest cities to open a business, public relations specialist Brenda Franco told St. George News.

The company studied 79 cities in Utah to determine the safest cities in the state. Using violent and property crime data compiled by the FBI, which included an array of property and violent crime types, including murder, rape, robbery, assault, theft. The study used a ranking system to determine which cities were the safest, compared to those with a high crime score.

The data was used to score each city based on crimes per capita, scores that were also influenced by the severity of the crimes. The study also ranked the cities by categories, which were divided into three: small, medium and large cities. This data was used to score each city based on crimes per capita, also influenced by the severity of the crimes.

2016 file photo of St. George City as seen from the Dixie Rock/Sugarloaf formation at Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah, July 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The average crime score across the state was 42, with 7 being the lowest and 160 being the highest.

St. George was listed in the “large city” category, which includes any city with more than 50,000 residents, and was given a crime score of 41.3, ranking it as the sixth safest large city in Utah.

In comparison, Lehi was ranked as the safest city in the same category, with a crime score of 20.2, while Salt Lake City, the most populous city in the state, had the highest crime rate in the category, 130.5, which was more than three times higher than St. George.

The study included a mid-size category of 38 cities, in which Santa Clara-Ivins came in at No. 5, with an overall crime score of 15. While Cedar City was listed as 33 out of 38, with a crime score of 43.5, which was only slightly higher than St. George per capita.

In the “small town” category, the average crime score was 48, and Kanab came in at No. 3 on the list, with a score of 14.3.

St. George Communications and Marketing Director David Cordero gave positive marks for proactive policing policies that are in place, which can only be successful if there is a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.

“You can see this any time the police department posts a missing person alert or an individual they are trying to identify,” Cordero said. “Right away, the residents respond and jump in to help.”

He also praises the residents of St. George, and the way he sees it it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that St. George remains “such a great place.”

Similar comments were shared by St. George Police Officer and spokesperson for the department, Tiffany Atkin, who said it’s the relationships between law enforcement and the citizens, as well as the city, that helps to maintain a “beautiful and safe city.”

As an example, there is very little graffiti in St. George largely because of the citizens who care about the city and report it, and those reports trigger a quick response by the city to remove it, so each component in that cycle of community partnerships is vital to keep St. George a beautiful place to live, she said.

Most importantly, the community support and collaboration is what makes it possible for the officers to do their job, she said, and “without that community support and partnership we wouldn’t be ranked so high on that list.”

File photo of St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin at bat during softball game between a team of clean and sober addicts and a team of police officers at the Canyon Softball Complex in St. George, Utah, Aug. 22, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

To conduct the study, AdvisorSmith collected data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Data Set, which provides the number of violent crimes such as murder, assault, rape, and robbery, as well as the number of property crimes, such as larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft reported in each city. Moreover, a multiplier was applied to more serious crimes such as murder and rape. The total crime numbers for each city were then adjusted for population to calculate the crime score in each city.

Crime across the beehive state

In 2018, the most recent data available from the Department of Justice revealed there were 7,368 violent crimes reported in Utah, or roughly 230 for every 100,000 people – well below the national average of more than 380 per 100,000 people.

Moreover, the number of murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults committed in the state declined by 2% between 2017 and 2018, even as the total population climbed by nearly 2%.

The data also showed that across the board, areas with strong economic conditions tend to have lower crime rates than average – and Utah is no exception.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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