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LO makes national safe cities list

Lake Oswego is considered one of the safest in the state — second only to West Linn.

That’s according to Location Inc., which publishes an annual list of the top 100 Safest Cities in America for communities with populations of 25,000 or more.

The rankings are based on the total number of crimes for every 1,000 residents using data from Location Inc.’s geographic research site, NeighborhoodScout.

Lake Oswego and West Linn were the only two cities in Oregon to make the 2013 safe cities list. Lake Oswego ranked 84th in the nation this year, falling from its 2012 spot as 68th safest, while West Linn placed 36th this year, climbing a few spots from its position in 2012.

The safest city in the country, according to the list, is Franklin, Mass.

Lake Oswego Police Capt. Dale Jorgensen said the community deserves a lot of credit for its high status.

“Our community, by and large, is very proactive,” he said. “That’s where theft or any kind of crime deterrent really starts: with our community being vigilant and calling us.”

In addition, Jorgensen said, it helps that police officers enjoy their work.

“All of our officers take their jobs very seriously, and all of our officers love what they do; they love being police officers and they love working in this community,” he said.

Police have also made “a big push” to work with neighborhood associations and businesses over the past year, an effort that included more than 500 visits to local businesses, Jorgensen said. Schools have invited officers to give presentations on various subjects, and residents are willing to reach out when concerned about anything out of the ordinary.

“That’s really what community policing is: It’s the community helping police, and police helping the community,” he said. “In some communities that doesn’t happen; people just shut their doors and turn a blind eye. But that doesn’t happen in this community.”

The fact that Lake Oswego is considered affluent and is mostly residential might have helped the city’s safe status — for one, it can be easier to spot potential offenders — but sometimes those characteristics work against the community.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Jorgensen said, explaining that the perception of Lake Oswego as a bedroom community filled with upscale homes can make it a target for burglars.

Location Inc.’s ranking system considered property crimes such as burglary and theft as well as violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape and assault.

According to NeighborhoodScout, 19 violent crimes were reported in Lake Oswego in 2012.

The listing didn’t cite any murders. While several people were killed in two incidents in the area last year, those crimes took place in unincorporated pockets of Clackamas County.

NeighborhoodScout logged 502 property crimes in the city in 2012. That included 77 cases of burglary, 409 of theft and 16 of motor vehicle theft.

The safest areas were around Fosberg Road and Suncreek Drive and around Southshore Boulevard and Fernwood Drive. Villa Ridge and the Carman Drive and Meadows Road area were considered the least safe.

A resident’s chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Lake Oswego is 1 in 1,950; in West Linn it’s 1 in 2,539, and in Oregon it’s 1 in 404. The chance of being the victim of a property crime is 1 in 74 in Lake Oswego, compared to 1 in 95 in West Linn and 1 in 32 in Oregon.

— Lori Hall contributed to this story.



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