By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 6/4/20
Rockingham County is home to the top two safest cities in Virginia, and it became official May 27.
SafeWise, a safety- focused community organization, recently released its list of the state’s 20 safest cities and towns for 2020, with Broadway ranked No. 1 and Bridgewater following at No. 2.
In 2019, Broadway was ranked at No. 10 due to an increase in violent crimes compared to previous years.
“We’ve always hovered in the top five of the list fortunately, [ but] in last year’s reporting we had an isolated crime that dropped us to 10,” said Town Manager Kyle O’Brien.
SafeWise compiles its list using data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program, with the most recent statistics from 2017. Cities and towns that don’t use the program or have a population of less than 3,000 are not considered for SafeWise’s list.
Data showed Broadway had a violent crime rate of 0.3 per 1,000 people in 2020 and a property crime rate of 2.3 — representing 10 reported crimes total. SafeWise classifies violent crimes as aggravated assault, rape, murder and robbery.
O’Brien said the ranking showed the community had “good, caring people.”
“All residents, business owners and students should be proud, as they’ve all had a hand in it,” he said. “We’re also very proud of our police department that takes community policing very seriously, and have a very good relationship with our residents and business owners.”
Out of the 20 cities and towns ranked by SafeWise, Broadway had the smallest population.
In Bridgewater, which ranked No. 1 in 2019 and has a population double the size of Broadway, the violent crime rate was 0.5 per 1,000 people, which showed an increase of 0.3 compared to the 0.2 violent crime rate in both 2019 and 2018. For property crimes, Bridgewater has a rate of 4.1 per 1,000 people.
“We’re fortunate to live in a place as safe as the Shenandoah Valley,” said Alex Wilmer, assistant town manager. “It is a testament both to our citizens and to all of our local law enforcement officers. We appreciate their service to our community.”
Bridgewater Police Chief Joe Simmons said Wednesday his department is “committed to community policing and providing exceptional services to all.”
Other areas in the Shenandoah Valley that were ranked included Buena Vista at No. 8 and Lexington at No. 3.