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Bremerton-Silverdale residents safe at home

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Forget about the recent flooding and the fact that Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is home to an arsenal of nuclear weapons. According to a recent report, Bremerton and Silverdale are among the top 10 safest mid-sized cities in the country.

The pair appear in tandem at No. 10 on Farmers Insurance’s 2007 “Most Secure Places to Live” list out of 127 U.S. cities with populations of 150,000 to 500,000. Bremerton wasn’t even ranked in the top 20 last year, but placed at No. 5 in 2005.

The rankings took into account variables such as crime statistics, extreme weather, terrorist threats and life expectancy.

“I think it just speaks to the quality of life in the area,” said Darla Murker, executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.

The “small town feel, combined with big city amenities” of the area and strong community ties are part of what makes the area so safe, she added. She also credited local emergency workers with keeping Bremerton and Silverdale relatively free of major emergencies.

Crime rates in unincorporated Kitsap County dropped off noticeably in 2007, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. Violent crime dropped almost 12 percent, property crime went down by 3.5 percent and property crime was more than 15 percent lower than in 2006.

“When we look at this being on top of several years of falling crime rates in the unincorporated portion of Kitsap County, along with an increasing population ... this is a good thing,” Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff Scott Wilson stated in an e-mail.

The statistics echo a statewide drop in crime rates during the last year.

The Chamber plans on using the ranking as a marketing tool to attract potential newcomers.

“We want them to know that we’re part of a nationally ranked (safety list),” Murker said. “These are definitely things that we can use to promote the area.”

Washington state had two other cities in Farmers’ top 10 — Olympia topped the list and Bellingham came in at No. 5.

The rankings were compiled by “database experts” at Sperling’s BestPlaces, www.bestplaces.net, according to Farmers.

Top 20 Safest Places

The Bremerton-Silverdale area ranked No. 10 in Farmers Insurance’s “Most Secure Places to Live” study of mid-size cities, 150,000-500,000 residents. Here is the complete list of the Top 20:

1. Olympia, Wash.

2. Rockingham County — Strafford County, N.H.

3. San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles, Calif.

4. Sioux Falls, S.D.

5. Bellingham, Wash.

6. Fargo, N.D.

7. Naples–Marco Island, Fla.

8. Las Cruces, N.M.

9. Lancaster, Pa.

10. Bremerton–Silverdale

11. Binghamton, N.Y.

12. Lynchburg, Va.

13. Burlington–South Burlington, Vt.

14. Rochester, Minn.

15. Santa Barbara–Santa Maria, Calif.

16. Charlottesville, Va.

17. Santa Rosa–Petaluma, Calif.

18. Salinas, Calif.

19. St. Cloud, Minn.

20. Medford, Ore.

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