The city of Berea was recently touted as one of the safest cities to live in the state.
According to a list created by Safety.com, Berea is the 13th safest city to live in within Kentucky.
These results were found when comparing public safety as well as the financial and socioeconomic safety of the cities of Kentucky, according to the Safety.com website.
“We’re tickled to be ranked 13th,” David Gregory, city administrator, said.
According to the website, a major factor in Berea’s score on the list was the low cost of rent as well as the low hate crime index.
Berea scored a 99 out of 100 for the public safety factor. Scoring was calculated by taking into account the total number of violent crimes, hate crimes, mass shootings, etc.
Berea had zero total violent crimes, zero aggravated assaults, zero property crimes and zero mass shootings.
For the hate crime index berea had 0.629208 and the officer incident index Berea had 0.629208. The data is based on a population of 10,000.
In an interview with The Register about the designation, Berea Police Chief Eric Scott explained safety is more than just policing.
“The Berea Police Department is taking a more holistic approach of breaking down data,” Scott said.
The police chief explained other agencies may deploy their units to parts of town which are broken up into different zones without much purpose.
In Berea, they are trying something different.
“One of my mottos is, 'In everything we do, we must lead with intent,'” Scott said. “It’s one thing to lead, but what are you leading, where are you going and how can you get there?”
He said the police department has added on an analyst position to help them create places to send their units with a purpose. The analyst looks at data and decides on the most effective ways to put resources where they need to be.
“We don’t want to look at policing as a reactive response to something. We are trying to be more proactive in preventing occurrences from happening,” Scott said.
In order to do this, the analyst will look at stats and pinpoint where speeding, drugs, break ins and thefts are happening each month; relaying that information to the units.
“What we found is that in the city of Berea, all of the drugs are coming from around seven different streets. All of the speeding is coming from around seven different streets…. Our presence in those areas has deterred and decreased crime by almost 10 to 15 percent alone, just this calendar year,” Scott explained.
“When our supervisors deploy the officers into the city, they have a purpose for where they’re going. A purpose and an intent… That’s why we have been able to be considered one of the safer cities in the state,” Scott said.
“We try to get out of our police cars as much as possible and interact with our citizens,” David Gregory, Berea City Administrator and former police chief of Berea, explained. “We’re very involved in social media. We reach out to our community and they interact with us through our Twitter and Facebook. Being engaged (with the community) has helped to make us safe.”
But public safety was not the only piece of information Berea’s score depended on. It also rested on how financially safe Berea is.
Gregory touched on this by saying Berea has done very well by keeping their reserves strong, their debt is low, and their credit rating is “excellent.”
He noted new jobs are coming in to Berea because of businesses such as AppHarvest as well as the tourism helping to promote small businesses. This helps to keep unemployment low, Gregory explained.
“We’re not done,” Scott said. “My goal is, until we’re number one, we’re not going to stop until we get there… Until we become the model for all agencies, big or small. So they’ll say, they’re doing things different there and what they’re doing is working.”