Safewise.com, a website where users can compare security systems, also researches and publishes articles on a wide variety of safety-related topics. Recently, the company analyzed the safety of New Jersey’s residents, and found that, compared to their 2014 analysis, both violent crime and property crime have fallen. Over the past year, violent crime in New Jersey has decreased by nearly 36 percent, while property crime dropped nearly 30 percent. Violent crimes include murder, robbery, rape and aggravated assault, while property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. According to the website, “New Jersey’s crime rate is approximately 30 percent lower than the typical state in the U.S.” There is even better news in 50 towns across New Jersey, “where the average crime rate is 78 percent less than it is across the country.”
To compile their list of the 50 safest towns in New Jersey, Safewise identified neighborhoods that met two criteria. First, the community had to have a population of more than 10,000 people. Second, the town must report complete crime data to the FBI. The company then reviewed the FBI data and compared the number of violent crimes and property crimes in each of these communities. To fairly compare large and small towns, the data was adjusted to reflect crimes that occurred per 1,000 residents. The 50 towns with the lowest combined rate of reported property and violent crimes made the list. Of the top 50 towns, 15 of them are located in Bergen County. These include: Bergenfield (third), Wyckoff (fifth), River Edge (sixth), New Milford (10th), Westwood (12th), Hillsdale (14th), Oakland (16th), Ridgefield (17th), Tenafly (21st), Dumont (24th), Palisades Park (25th), Hasbrouck Heights (26th), Franklin Lakes (31st), Glen Rock (35th) and Fort Lee (46th).
In addition to excellence in law enforcement, the Safewise study highlighted the fact that many towns also owe their safety to advances in technology, a spirit of volunteerism among residents, and capital improvements, such as putting additional patrol cars on the street. Bergenfield Councilwoman Ora Kornbluth credits Bergenfield’s third-place ranking to “a wonderful community with dedicated volunteers, residents and employees committed to keeping it a safe place to live and raise a family.”
Tenafly is so committed to the safety of the children in their district that, according to Nadia LaMastra, Tenafly councilwoman, “One of our most recent accomplishments is a juvenile officer who now works full time in our school system. His office is located in the high school and as part of his responsibility he works with the middle school and elementary school children as well. It is a great way for the children to develop a relationship with the police.”
Dr. Mimi Berger, and her husband Rabbi Meir Berger, have lived in Fort Lee for nearly 50 years. While discussing her experiences in Fort Lee, Dr. Berger said, “I have worked in New York City for years, and every time I come back, [Fort Lee] is a respite, it is very safe and quiet.” Noting Fort Lee’s proximity to Manhattan, Dr. Berger added that “it’s always seemed very safe and serene to me, even though it’s so close to the city.” She credits the work of the Fort Lee Police Department, in that “the security seems to be very good but unobtrusive. Things seem to be organized and run very systematically and securely. The Jewish community has found a secure and pleasant home in the supportive atmosphere of Fort Lee.” Echoing Dr. Berger’s sentiments, the Safewise report highlighted Fort Lee as “a quintessential all-American community that’s earning kudos for its crime-fighting accomplishments.”
Tenafly similarly benefits from an exceptional police department that strives to maintain a close relationship between them and the community. Rabbi Mordechai Shain, Executive Director of Lubavitch on the Palisades, located in Tenafly, said “You call [the police], they come right away. They are always available, and they are always there to help you. You can call them for anything; if you are locked out of the house, you call them, they come and help you, you’re locked out of your car, you’re lost, anything. They always say [it’s better to] call us more and be safe than not to call us and be sorry.” The Lubavitch on the Palisades School currently enrolls children from the age of one year through sixth grade, with plans to continue educating students through eighth grade. To keep children of this wide age group safe, Rabbi Shain said, “the Chief of Police comes and gives lessons to the staff on how to act in different emergencies and how to be alerted, because he feels safety is the mission of everyone together, it’s not just the police department. They are always willing to give these lectures and educate the teachers. We have our private security for the school but at the same time the police always work [with us] and help us enhance our needs for the safety of the school and the children.”
The original report can be found at http://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-new-jersey-2015.
By Robin Tare