Three Cherokee cities make list of state’s 50 safest
by Michelle Babcock
February 21, 2014 04:00 AM | 3974 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents across Cherokee County may rest a little easier after the county’s three most populated cities were named to a list of the state’s 50 safest cities.

Holly Springs, Canton and Woodstock all made the list, compiled by home security company SafeWise, which looked at cities with populations of 5,000 or more residents and rated the cities’ safety based on the FBI Crime in the U.S. Report and other statistics.

Police chiefs from all three cities said being named on the list was an honor, and credited the accomplishment to teamwork between county and city public safety agencies, great residents, community involvement and good police departments.

Holly Springs took fourth place on the list; with a low crime rate and no cases of murder or arson in 2012, SafeWise called the city “a promising family destination, complete with welcoming neighborhoods and a thriving economy.”

Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said the city’s low crime rate and safety are primarily results of a high visibility and aggressive police department, teamwork with county public safety agencies and residents who care.

“I am more than proud to say I work and live in the city of Holly Springs,” Ball said. “There’s a great team effort in this county with all the public safety agencies and I think that’s what helped put us there — a good partnership with the other agencies as well as the residents in the city that are our eyes and ears.”

Ball said the being in the top five safest cities in the state was also due in part to the city’s TRACE program, which helps strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and residents.

“We have a large participation,” he said. “They come to these meetings, and we hide nothing from the citizens. We bring stats and crime reports … and we’ll inform them on what’s going on.”

Ball said law enforcement officials listen to the residents who attend the TRACE meetings and “often, they’ll have ideas that’ll work to solve a problem.”

Ball said another reason for the city’s low crime is high visibility patrols and a great solvability of crimes.

“That speaks volumes to the investigators of all the agencies. That also tends to go out into the criminal community — that this is not a place you come to do crime. You’re going to get caught immediately by the aggressiveness of the people on the street answering calls, or, if you’re fortunate enough to get away, chances are way above national standards that you’re going to get caught during the investigative process,” he said. “You’ve got the three largest cities in the county in the top tier of 700-plus cities in the state. Cherokee County is in the top. That says a lot.”

Canton came in at number 11 on the list, and SafeWise noted that Canton is “a great location for both starting a business and starting a family.”

Canton Police Chief Robert Merchant said he’s proud that Canton made it into the top 50 safest cities in the state.

“Any time that you can be named one of the safest cities in the state, that’s an honor and a tribute to the men and women in public safety entrusted to protect the community,” Merchant said.

Merchant said when looking at a city’s safety, it’s important to take into account the overall quality of life.

“From the educational system to the community, and the public safety to streets and recreations, a lot of different factors go into making a city a place where someone desires to live,” he said.

Merchant said the National Night Out program, an event that brought out about 1,000 people last year, helps to bring the community and police department together to create a better place to live.

Merchant said caring residents and great communication between the law enforcement agencies in the county helped make Canton one of the safest cities.

“I think all the municipalities and the sheriff’s department work very closely together, with the sheer desire to make this entire county the safest one we can possibly make it,” Merchant said. “I really have been impressed with the relationship we have with the sheriff’s office and all other municipalities.”

Woodstock landed at No. 25 on the list, as the city’s rate of violent crime dropped by 57 percent in 2013 from 2012, and was down 72 percent compared to 2011.

SafeWise noted that Woodstock, named one of Forbes fastest growing cities in recent years, kept residents busy with year-round special events and community parks.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said he’s glad Woodstock made the list and said the department will continue to work on making the city even safer.

“While we were happy to be named in the top 25 safest cities out of more than 700 in the state, we are not yet satisfied,” Moss said. “I’m convinced that the city of Woodstock is an extremely safe city, and a great place to live, work and raise a family, and it’s our intention to continue working hard to make it an even safer environment for our citizens.”

Moss said the “outstanding working relationship between all the law enforcement agencies in the county” stood out as a vital part of the equation in making Woodstock, and the entire county, one of the safest places.

“No law enforcement agency can do it alone,” Moss said. “We’re very pleased with the level of involvement of our citizens and business owners, through the See Something, Say Something campaign. They are also an integral part of the equation of public safety in Woodstock.”

Woodstock police and fire departments work together to inform and bond with residents through the Citizens’ Public Safety Academy, as well, Moss said.

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