Tuesday, November 13, 2018
The national SafeWise study ranked Willimantic 41 out of 534 cities analyzed.
“I’m not surprised to hear we made the list,” said Windham Town Manager Jim Rivers. “Our statistics have been very good the last few years. The work being done by the police department in town is tremendous.”
The study was conducted by looking at 2016 FBI crime data.
To be in the running, cities needed to have more than 15,000 residents and be home to an accredited college that offered four-year degrees.
The study excluded for-profit institutions, technical and vocational schools, community colleges, seminaries, field-specific institutions and schools that only offer two-year degrees.
Rankings were based on the incidence of violent crime per capita.
Rivers said the town has seen the results of quality community policing.
“Our violent crime level is half the state average,” Rivers said. “Our property crime is very low.”
Rivers said the Willimantic Police Department has a good relationship with the police department at Eastern Connecticut State University.
“The town population can swell at different times,” Rivers said. “It’s sometimes hard to manage that up and down. It’s a challenge that we have met very well. We could not be prouder of the relationships.”
Willimantic Police Lt. Mat-thew Solak said the departments are collaborating now more than ever.
Solak said low crime rates are key to keeping young people in Connecticut.
“This will bring young people to Willimantic,” Solak said. “This part of the state is not as remote as it was years ago. Willimantic is an up-and-coming city.”
Solak said the department has five current police officers who graduated from ECSU, including himself and Willimantic Police Chief Roberto Rosado.
Many other officers are currently taking undergraduate and graduate courses at ECSU.
ECSU University Relations Director Edward Osborn said Eastern administrative and police officials have a close working relationship with Willimantic police.
One of those efforts is the off-campus meet and greet.
This Wednesday, ECSU staff officials, ECSU police officers and Willimantic police officers will travel around off-campus ECSU apartments to chat with Eastern students.
“We remind them of policies and procedures of the city and the university,” Osborn said. “We ask them to practice good citizenship and appropriate adult behavior.”
Students are encouraged to be good neighbors to one other and respect the neighborhood atmosphere in Willimantic.
Rivers said, last year, the town and university staff visited 120 homes.
“We communicate with them to be safe and enjoy their time,” Rivers said. “We also ask them to visit the downtown and explore it.”
Osborn said, while earning a spot on the list is a proud accomplishment, Eastern staff know the accomplishment continues outside the university walls.
“This accomplishment is really about the work that the Willimantic police and other city officials have done to make this a safe city,” Osborn said. “We applaud them for that.”
Besides ECSU students, University of Connecticut students also find a home in Willimantic, according to Rivers.
Two other Connecticut cities placed in the top 50: Fairfield, where Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University are located, and West Hartford, where the University of Hartford is located.
Mansfield, where UConn is located, was not considered for this study.
Krystal Rogers of SafeWise said FBI data was not available for Mansfield for 2016.
SafeWise is an independent review site for home, auto and community safety.