Residents may be able to rest easier knowing they are in one of the safest communities in Connecticut, that according to SafeWise, a site focused on home security and safety.
Shelton placed 12th — moving up four spaces from last year — among Connecticut cities and towns in SafeWise’s annual reporting, which showed that the city, with a population of 41,625, reported a violent crime rate of 0.67 per 1,000 people, and a property crime rate of 9.51 per 1,000.
“We focus on risk reduction, and we make sure officers are visible in areas where we might be seeing crimes on an increase,” said Police Chief Shawn Sequeira, adding that the department remains proactive in crime prevention. “I’m proud of everyone here for their efforts. We are seeing results. We are having success.”
Sequeira also credited the patrol division, calling it the backbone of the department, in its effort to quell crime.
“In different areas where we see crimes increasing, areas where we see risk, we focus on risk reduction,” said Sequeira. “What that means is increasing patrols, routine checks, moving more resources in those areas and keeping an omnipresence in those areas.”
Sequeira said that maintaining a “strong, consistent visibility” throughout the community is known to reduce crime, and “that is the ultimate goal.”
And the department has seen success in reducing crime, as demonstrated through comparing Shelton’s crime statistics from 2017 and 2018, during which time most major incident totals dropped or remained about the same.
Police data showed that the number of reported rapes in 2018 was eight, compared to three the previous year. Overall, sexual assaults — encompassing rape and forcible fondling — totaled 14 in 2018, with 10 the previous year. There was one negligent manslaughter arrest — with none reported the previous year — but otherwise, crime numbers saw some significant decreases in Shelton in 2018.
There were 50 larcenies in 2018, a significant drop from 84 the previous year; 66 burglaries in 2018, down from 80 in 2017; 35 stolen motor vehicles in 2018, down from 52 in 2017; 52 reports of vandalism in 2018, down from 95 in 2017; 79 thefts from a motor vehicle in 2018, down from 86 the previous year; and 68 reports of threatening/intimidation in 2018, a significant drop from 121 in 2017.
The number of robberies and assaults did rise, but only slightly. Robberies rose from six in 2017 to seven in 2018, and assault reports were 45 in 2017, 46 this past year, according to police data. Arson reports remained flat, one each in 2017 and 2018.
Overall, according to the SafeWise report, Connecticut is well below national averages for both violent and property crime. Proving the point, 95% of the cities on the list saw fewer than one violent crime per 1,000 people, according to FBI data.
With such a low violent crime rate — just 2.55 — it is no surprise that residents named digital security their top concern in the SafeWise State of Safety study. Just 6% of the people spoken to as part of the report stated a personal experience with violent crime in the past year, but 16% reported experiencing a digital security issue.
To identify the safest cities of 2019, SafeWise reviewed 2017 FBI crime report statistics (the most recent complete report available at the time of ranking) and population data. The rankings are based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, SafeWise also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). SafeWise gave precedence to violent crime because it typically results in physical harm or injury, whereas property crime usually has an economic impact. While both are concerning, people are usually more afraid of violent crime, which directly impacts their feeling of safety.
To level the playing field, SafeWise calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. This makes it easier, according to SafeWise researchers, to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations.
brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com