Nine towns and cities in Northwest Indiana — many of which have made the annual list more than once — have been named some of the safest places in the state, according to a recent safety research report.
St. John, with a population of roughly 17,000 residents, held onto the No. 1 spot in the 20 Safest Cities in Indiana 2019 report by SafeWise, a professional website that tests, reviews and compares home safety products and home security companies.
Dyer followed in third, Crown Point fourth, Chesterton seventh, Munster ninth, Valparaiso 14th, Griffith 15th, Highland 16th and Hobart finishing out the state’s list at 20th.
The rankings are based on 2017 (the most up-to-date) FBI crime report statistics and census population data, according to SafeWise. The report focuses on violent crimes — aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery — per 1,000 people in each town/city. If there is a tie, the number of reported property crimes — burglary, arson, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft — is factored.
Staying vigilant in St. John
St. John Police Chief James Kveton said he is proud the community has been recognized not only locally, but also nationwide. According to SafeWise’s recent 'Safest Cities in America' report, St. John is the 19th safest town in the nation.
“I would like to praise the officers that are out on the streets every day for this town. I am proud of the work they do and the citizens for reporting and letting us know when they see anything out of place,” Kveton said. “It takes all of us to be where we are.”
St. John had a .12 violent crime rate and 8.35 property crime rate, according to SafeWise.
According to the St. John Police Department’s 2018 annual report, police responded to 16,800 incident and service calls last year, roughly 1,700 more calls compared to 2017.
More than half (51 percent) of all calls were related to traffic. Citizen assists counted for 30 percent, with the remainder relating to ordinances, people, property and juveniles and assisting other agencies, including fire and EMS.
There were 303 total arrests and 490 criminal charges.
"The arrests and criminal charges went up nearly 20 percent. It's an area that is continuing to grow as we stay vigilant," Kveton said, adding that the town rarely sees violent offenses and property crime is the most prevalent.
Deterring criminals in Dyer
Dyer officials also have great pride in their town’s safety ranking. In addition to making the state’s list, Dyer is ranked as the 68th safest in the nation.
“We are ecstatic that we could rank so high. It tells us that we are doing something right here,” Dyer Police Chief David Hein said. “We take crime personally and want our town to be deemed as safe.”
Dyer, with a population of more than 15,800, had a 0.25 violent crime rate and 8.51 property crime rate, according to SafeWise.
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Hein said the department, made up of 31 officers, responds mostly to traffic and theft calls.
According to the Police Department’s 2018 annual report, there were 495 total accidents reported. The top three types of collisions were rear-ending, backing up and right angles. One fatality was reported with the traffic accidents.
Of the more than 10,000 total law incidents to the Dyer Police Department, 154 theft incidents were reported, which included identity, firearms, auto and theft from a vehicle.
Hein attributes the safety ranking to the department’s proactive tactical patrol unit, which focuses specifically on crime prevention. By increasing manpower during in the afternoon shifts, law enforcement has been able to ultimately deter crime, he said.
“We increased our traffic stops to over 8,100 traffic stops in 2018. When motorists or criminals see cars being pulled over all the time, it deters not only traffic violators but also criminals. They will avoid the area for fear of getting pulled over,” Hein said.
Feeling safe in Crown Point, Chesterton
Crown Point Mayor David Uran recently took to Facebook to share the news of the city making the state’s ranking as the fourth-safest.
Uran contributes the positive results to the public safety division led by “outstanding and dedicated police and EMA officers.”
Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land shared that same outlook.
“Although I'm pleased with the recognition and proud of the commitment and hard work of our police officers, I realize that working to keep Crown Point as the great city that it is requires a strong partnership between our citizens and Police Department,” Land told The Times. “Our citizens do a great job in serving as the eyes and ears of the city.”
With a population of roughly 29,000, Crown Point had 0.34 violent crime rate and 11.33 property crime rate, according to SafeWise.
Last year, Crown Point police responded to 21,297 calls for service, according to the department’s 2018 year-end report. Sixteen vehicle thefts and 12 burglary incidents were reported.
There were 1,440 charges filed and 5,236 warnings issued, both increased by 10 percent compared to 2017.
Ranking as most safe town in Porter County and seventh in the state, Chesterton has a 0.59 violent crime rate and 8.67 property crime rate, according to SafeWise.
“While no community that I know of can or will experience complete isolation from criminal activity, the residents of Chesterton and visitors to our community can be and feel relatively safe and tranquil living in and visiting our community,” Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski said. “The Police Department staff takes the safety and security of our community seriously and endeavors to deal with any issues proactively.