YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We pay a lot of attention to areas with high crime — but what about the safest neighborhoods?
WKBN broke down pages of FBI data — each year it sends out statistics comparing every community across the country — to reveal the safest cities in the Valley.
Two communities in Mahoning Valley had zero reports of violent crime in the most recent release: Poland Village and Milton Township. New Middletown and Jackson also had low rates.
Milton Township police work with year-round residents. But in the summer, there’s a large influx of visitors to state park campgrounds and lakefront vacation homes.
Milton Police Chief Charles VanDyke said the relationship between his officers and the public is like a marriage.
“You’re going to have rough times,” he said. “But you hope that you’ve laid the foundation through the years, that you’ve known each other, that — when you do hit a rough time — you can work through it without the community erupting.”
Cities with high and low crime numbers in the Valley
Cities with high and low crime numbers in the Valley x
How safe communities keep their crime rates down
“We’ve had our share of assaults and bank robberies,” VanDyke said. “We are currently involved in our share of overdoses, just like the rest of the communities surrounding us. We’re not exempt from any of that.”
Even so, there’s no denying police work in places like Milton Township and New Middletown is very different from Youngstown or Warren.
Milton Township didn’t record a single violent crime in 2015.
In New Middletown, Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio says he trains his officers to stay on guard against getting too relaxed on the streets.
“Complacency is one of the top 10 killers in police work,” he said. “Officers know nothing is going to happen — or they respond to this location a couple times for the same alarm that goes off. Or a burglar alarm goes off. And that one time you show up and there is somebody actually there…”
D’Egidio says he makes sure his New Middletown officers have a daily reminder that anything can happen.
Neighbors are key in keeping communities safe
At the Golden Rye in New Middletown, there’s plenty for people to talk about — but crime usually isn’t high on the list.
“I think people feel very comfortable here in this town,” said Matt Lavelle, a cook at the restaurant.
Lavelle said there has never been a problem at the business — not even people walking out on the bill.
“You know what, in all the instances we’ve had, they all call,” Lavelle said. “We’ve had about two where they forgot to pay or even forgot to tip. And they call or come back. And they take care of it.”
The last time New Middletown Police had to deal with a violent crime was 2015.
“We have a beautiful community and we have a lot of older, established residents who have no problem notifying the police,” Chief D’Egidio said.
D’Egidio gives credit to those neighbors who call if they see something suspicious.
“They are basically our eyes and ears out there and allow us to do our jobs,” he said.
In Milton Township where crime is also very low, much of the same goes on.
“It’s a small, but very tight-knit community where people still look out for each other,” Chief VanDyke said. “The neighbors check on each other and when there is something suspicious going on, they report it.”
VanDyke added that people in the community know his officers by first name. Many people just call him directly on his cell phone to talk about issues in the community.
For the complete list of city crime statistics from 2015, visit the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting table for Ohio.