WL sixth safest city

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, September 13, 2017
West Liberty is the sixth safest city in the state of Iowa according to the 2017 SafeWise Report, a pretty good standing for a community of 3,500.

Every year SafeWise identifies the “20 Safest Cities in Iowa.” Last year West Liberty ranked 16th, meaning the community has jumped 10 spots in one year.

“West Liberty has been a safe city for as long as I can remember,” said Mayor Robert Hartman. “We have great residents who care about their families, schools, jobs and community.”

“There has been articles, documentaries and lists which document this pride and commitment our community members exhibit,” he adds. “I am extremely proud to be a member of this city!”

A lot of that safety has to do with the community looking out for each other.

“It’s neighbors looking out for neighbors,” says Police Chief Kary Kinmonth, “People know each other, they get to know the patterns, they know when people aren’t home.”

In his short time as West Liberty’s police chief, he’s noticed a strong sense of community here; he’s noticed that people just feel safe in West Liberty.

“There’s a lot of extra eyes out there for us, people ‘will call’ and ‘do call’ when there is something that is out of the norm,” explains Chief Kinmonth.

“People will notice when a neighbor hasn’t picked up their newspaper for two days,” he says, “Mail carriers and bus drivers will call us if something is out of place.”

For the report SafeWise reviews the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics, along with population data for every community in Iowa with a population of over 3,000 residents.

There are 947 cities in the state of Iowa, slightly more than half have fewer than 500 residents. According to the 2010 census, Iowa has 3,046,355 inhabitants.

Actually, the same report states Iowa ranks 18th in the country for low violent and property crime rates.

The report evaluates the number of violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft).

In West Liberty, SafeWise has determined that the average is 1.88 violent crimes per 1,000, as well as 5.90 property crimes per 1,000.

Compare that to first place Eldridge, which averages .48 violent crimes per 1,000, and 2.39 property crimes per 1000. In second place was Hampton and in third, Waukon.

There’s a lot going for West Liberty when it comes to safety, even beyond community members looking out for other community members.

“We are proactively patrolling, we are not reactively patrolling,” says Chief Kinmonth of the police force. “We also get to know our community members; we know when something is out of place.”

“I make it a point to make sure my officers know this, we patrol every street in town,” he adds. “And I tell them, ‘don’t be predictable.’”

Since Chief Kinmonth started in West Liberty this year there has been a concentrated effort by the force to be visible and approachable.

That being said, the data put together in the 2017 “20 Safest Cities in Iowa” report came from 2015. That just means safety is deeply rooted in the community.

The city averages maybe four to five accounts of forceable felony, or violent crimes per year. There are maybe five to six occurrences of stolen cars or burglaries per year.

According to the 2017 SafeWise report, low violent crime rates were a trend in the top 20 cities including West Liberty. There were only two reported murders in the bunch.

Meanwhile, it reports that 45 percent of the top 20 saw no incidents of rape, and eight cities were free of both murder and rape during the most recent reporting period.

“Regarding robberies, every city that made this year’s cut reported fewer than ten incidents, and 60 percent had no robberies at all,” it states.”

So what does that mean for West Liberty?

“When a bad person moves into our town we make it very uncomfortable for them to want to stick around, we have a zero tolerance approach to violent behavior,” says Chief Kinmonth.

“I want them to move to Iowa City, or Davenport. I don’t care where they go, but we want to keep our town safe,” he says.

He encourages the community to keep on keeping on with what it’s doing. Get to know each other, report things that are out of the norm when they occur. It’s neighbors looking out for neighbors.

Another suggestion, try to keep the deeply personal stuff off of social media. It’s just not a good idea to tell the world you’re about to go on a 20 day vacation.

To learn more about SafeWise and “The 20 Safest Cities in Iowa” visit www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-iowa.

FYI, the non-emergency number for the West Liberty Police Department is 319-627-2223. It’s a good number to have in your cellphone. For all emergencies dial 911.
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