By Morgan Cutolo, Contributing Writer
According to the home security company SafeWise, Durham was named the ninth safest community in the state of New Hampshire, a recognition that’s raised some questions regarding what else can be done to push Durham higher up the list.
The data compiled from SafeWise was from the FBI Crime Report, which was last received in 2012. SafeWise analyzed various aspects of the report in order to rank the various towns and cities with a population of over 3,000 residents in New Hampshire. Two aspects were taken into consideration when compiling the list: property and violent crime rates. Property crimes consist of burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft and arson, whereas violent crimes consist of robbery, murder, aggravated assault and forcible rape.
Durham reported 1.42 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 7.88 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The town taking the number one spot as the safest community in the state was New Ipswich, which had 0 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 4.29 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Nearby Dover and Portsmouth didn’t make SafeWise’s report of the top 30 safest communities in New Hampshire. According to neighborhoodscout.com, Dover reported 1.61 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 18.49 property crimes per 1,000 residents, and Portsmouth had 2.33 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 26.45 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
“[Durham] is a very safe community. We take great pains to utilize the community oriented policing, and our police department has a close working relationship with the community it serves,” said Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig.
Durham Chief of Police David Kurz feels that police and law enforcement officials play a vital role in making Durham ninth on the list.
“I was very pleased and honored that Durham received this recognition. The kudos go to the officers and frankly the citizens of Durham, including students, who remain engaged with the wellbeing of the community,” Kurz said.
With UNH being a huge part of Durham, students and parents are able to feel safe and know that there is always an easy way to find help.
“I feel pretty safe here walking around with all the emergency buttons. It makes me feel a lot better that we are considered one of the safer communities,” said Lydia Lavasseur, a sophomore at UNH. “I see police around constantly so I always know they are easy access if an emergency ever were to happen.”
Susan D’Arrigo, a Durham resident of 10 years, feels safe in her community, but believes more can be done to prevent UNH students from being harmed.
“UNH, as far as I understand, is relatively safe in comparison to other colleges. But most things go unreported, in particular sexual violence and assaults. I think the college does a very good job with SHARPP [Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program], I think they could use more information about how to defend themselves,” D’Arrigo said.
Additionally, Kurz believes that a good rapport between Durham residents and law enforcement help mitigate the number of incidents.
“We urge folks to call us if they observe something that seems out of place, or wrong, or simply makes them uneasy. We work diligently to ensure that this is not ‘bothering us’ and that we can quickly dispel their concern or take some enforcement action if that is appropriate and in fact, that is why we exist,” Kurz said.
“UNH is located in one of the safest communities in the nation,” Selig said. “Students at the university are fortunate to reside in a community-oriented municipality like Durham. It’s not only a great place to live; it’s a safe place to live. That’s a winning combination.”