Local Crime, News, Police/Fire

Peabody police chief credits city’s ranking as third-safest community in state to community policing initiatives

Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin credits the city's SafeHome.org ranking as third-safest community in Massachusetts to community policing initiatives. (Spenser R. Hasak)

PEABODY — The city is the third safest in Massachusetts, according to security company SafeHome.org, and Police Chief Thomas Griffin said the ranking points to a positive trend he is only too happy to publicize.

“All in all, we are a very safe city. It speaks to the relationship between the police and the community. People are willing to talk to us and work with us,” Griffin said.

SafeHome.org ranked Newton as the safest city with Plymouth ranked second. The security systems company referenced violent crime and property crime statistics for communities and the ratio of police officers to a community’s population to compose its rankings.

The company gave Newton a 90.11 “safety score” and Peabody earned a score of 89. Statistics gathered by SafeHome indicate violent crime is up by 11 percent in Peabody but property crimes dropped by 52 percent.

SafeHome cited 156 violent crimes in its Peabody safety assessment. The 2016 FBI Crime in the U.S. statistics listed 206 violent crimes in Peabody for that year and 685 property crimes compared to 425 cited in SafeHome’s assessment.

By contrast, SafeHome listed 74 violent crimes in Newton, a city of 90,000, compared to Peabody, which has 52,700 residents.

SafeHome is not alone among security firms publishing “safest community” statistics with the National Council For Home Safety and Security and SafeWise publishing lists similar to SafeHome’s.

Chief for five years, Griffin examines crime statistics and safety rankings with a critical eye. He knows even a slight uptick in crime can alter numbers and percentages. But he linked reductions in Peabody crime to the city’s sustained community policing initiative.

Community policing officers include Police Officer John Nelson, based in the Northshore Mall. Officer Rick Heath patrols Main Street and Officer Rick Cameron works out of the Peter A. Torigian Center.

“We’re very fortunate to also have four school resource offices,” Griffin said.

The partnership between police and the community grew stronger, Griffin said, when the department launched its citizens academy three years ago. About 30 residents sign up annually to participate in a program familiarizing them with police work. The next class graduates in June.

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