By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Low crime and higher quality of life contributed to the city ranking among the safest places to live in Michigan. Two recent reports posted by home security and real estate advocates listed Trenton as among the 20 safest cities in the state with populations of more than 10,000.
SafeWise, an online database for home security and safety, ranked Trenton No. 17 among the state’s 50 safest cities. The company and partners including Protect America, LifeShield Security and FrontPoint Security compiled information from FBI crime statistics for 2012 for its report released earlier this month. The report included both violent crimes and property theft as rating factors.
Trenton Director of Police and Fire Services James Nardone said statistics from recent years have shown increases in property crimes in most municipalities, but that the city has kept those numbers to a minimum while maintaining a comparatively low level of violent crimes. The challenge, Nardone said, has been to maintain a police presence in the community in spite of the budget challenges of recent years that has resulted in public safety layoffs.
“We have a strong partnership with the community, both businesses and residents, and maintain open communications,” Nardone said.
City officials and labor unions negotiated contracts and began sharing resources such as dispatch and soon jail operations with neighboring communities to keep budgets open for patrol officers.
“I think we’re getting better at analyzing data,” Nardone said. “We use our records to determine where we need to put officers on the street.”
Downriver cities that made the list included Riverview — which will soon share jail services and operations with Trenton — at No. 3 and Grosse Ile Township at No. 4. Nardone said the rankings often surprise people with Downriver communities placing higher than cities often considered more desirable, such as Grosse Pointe Woods (No. 22), Birmingham (25) and Novi (30).
Earlier this year Trenton was ranked No. 18, and Riverview eighth, on a similar survey compiled by online real estate service Movoto based on 2013 crime statistics.
According to Movoto, Trenton residents have a one-in-889 chance of being involved in a violent crime, and a one-in-82 chance of being victim of a property crime. By comparison residents of the city ranking 50th on the list, Benton Harbor, have a one-in-43 change ofbeing involved in a violent crime, and a one-in-12 chance of falling victim to property crime.
Nardone said that as economic conditions have improved somewhat the city has been supportive by adding staffing which allows for a greater police presence.
“We did have some increases in property crime,” Nardone said. “But we’ve added staffing, our residents are involved in the process and the mayor and administration have been really good. It all makes a difference.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])