Last week, SafeWise — a website that provides “unbiased home security reviews, comparisons and advice that empowers consumers to make wise decisions to protect their home” — listed the town of Ocean View as the second-safest municipality in the state of Delaware.
According to SafeWise, “We put our list of the top five safest cities in Delaware together by identifying cities with a population over 1,500 residents in 2012 and evaluating the most up-to-date FBI Crime Report statistics.
“We then took a look at the number of violent crimes, consisting of aggravated assault, robbery, murder and forcible rape, as well as property crimes, consisting of burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson and larceny-theft. From there, we determined the chance of these crimes happening out of 1,000 people, to compensate for city population variances.
“The FBI Crime Report is well-respected source for crime statistics, but some Delaware agencies may not have reported complete data to the FBI. If you don’t see a safe Delaware city listed below, that could be the reason why.”
Ocean View’s ranking showed violent crimes per 1,000 at .51 and property crimes per 1,000 at 21.72. It was surpassed in safety only by Clayton.
Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin credited the rating to a number of factors, one of which is having an outstanding staff that do their jobs well.
“The fact that we have really good people and we solve a vast amount of crimes that occur in our community — we close out with an arrest, which sends a very strong message to the criminal element to stay away,” he said. “If you commit a crime in Ocean View, there’s a really good chance you’re going to get caught.”
Currently, the department has nine officers, a secretary and volunteers, as well as seasonal receptionists to meet the demand for services. The Ocean View Police Department has 24-hour policing throughout town, which McLaughlin says helps deter a lot of crime from taking place within town limits.
“And the fact that our people know and, in a lot of cases, are very, very familiar with the criminal community,” he added. “We know who all the players are because we have the luxury of working in a small community. Spending a lot of time in the same place, you get to know everybody.”
McLaughlin added that the department has a great working relationship with the community, which makes policing that much easier.
“We get calls every single day from our citizens, giving us information about criminal activity in the area,” he said. “All that is extremely important. You combine some good-quality people in appropriate numbers patrolling a small area, and the result is we’re able to push that criminal element out of our community.”
Taking a proactive approach to policing is important, he said, as his officers are able to build a great relationship with businesses, property owners, visitors and more.
“The key is unobligated time. When your police agency loses its unobligated time and becomes totally reactive — have no time to go through the school and talk to the kids, no time to patrol the community and just smile and wave with the resident out walking their dog — they can’t build those bonds with the communities, they don’t have the intimate knowledge of the community and they become totally reactive. Subsequently, crime goes up.”
While Ocean View was ranked No. 2 in the state, it was ranked the safest community in Sussex County by SafeWise.
“We’re happy to be one of the safest communities,” he said. “We’ve had the support to maintain appropriate staffing levels, good-quality people, and this is just a result of all that taking place. This isn’t just us doing our job. There are a lot of other factors that have to come together for an agency to have success.
“There’s a lot of different components to making things successful. We’ve been very fortunate. We have outstanding community cooperation. We have a very knowledgeable mayor and town council. We have great community leadership here.”
To view the rankings, visit http://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-delaware/.