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February 11. 2014 6:12PM

Merrimack ranked 19th safest city in America

MERRIMACK — For the second year in a row, Merrimack has been named one of the top 100 safest cities in America.

“Community policing is a priority for us. The police department is part of that larger puzzle,” said Chief Mark Doyle of the Merrimack Police Department.

Being ranked as the 19th safest city among the nation’s top 100 ranked communities in America is a huge accomplishment, and many people and organizations deserve to be recognized — not just local law enforcement, said Doyle.

The newest ranking from Neighborhood Scout, a neighborhood research site developed by Location Inc., uses FBI crime data statistics and population numbers of communities with more than 25,000 citizens.

“When we look at crime prevention as a mission of the police department, we understand that we cannot undertake it ourselves,” said Doyle. It is a team effort by the police force, local school district, civics groups, youth organizations, town officials and more, he said.

According to Neighborhood Scout’s website, Merrimack’s crime index is at 81, with 100 being the safest. With a total of six violent crimes (one robbery and five assaults) and 223 property crimes (33 burglaries, 181 thefts and 9 motor vehicle thefts), a total of 229 crimes were reported last year, according to the website.

“My chances of becoming a (violent crime) victim in Merrimack: 1 in 4,268,” says the site, adding the average in New Hampshire is about 1 in 532.

Merrimack is the only New Hampshire community listed in the newest ranking, but Doyle says that does not mean that other Granite State towns and cities are not deserving of the honor.

“We see successes collectively in law enforcement in New Hampshire, and we all share very similar beliefs and philosophies,” said the chief, adding the local police force is aiming to be ranked the safest community in America next year. In 2013, Merrimack, with 25,606 residents, was ranked 34th on the list.

“There is a lot of energy when they see these recognitions from an independent organization. It sends a good message that we are here to help and work together,” said Doyle.

With 38 police officers, six support staff and 10 dispatchers working for the Merrimack Police Department, Doyle says they all should be proud of the ranking. He explained, however, that ongoing efforts by the department’s community service division should be highly praised.

Because of its dedication and commitment, and that of many local citizens, there are 22 neighborhood watch groups in Merrimack with about 55 street signs indicating that watch groups are active in the community, Doyle said.

Merrimack’s ranking is based on the total number of crimes per 1,000 residents, including crimes such as burglary, theft, homicide, rapes, burglaries and aggravated assaults, according to the Neighborhood Scout website.

“Once we have this complete and accurate count of crimes for every city in the nation, our analysis takes the total crimes for each city with 25,000 or more people, and divides them by the population of the city, divided by 1,000. This establishes a total crime rate per 1,000 population that is used to compare every city,” the site says.

Franklin, Mass., is ranked No. 1 on the Neighborhood Scout list for the second year in a row.

khoughton@newstote.com


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