Providence has been named the sixth-safest city in the United States by Forbes Magazine, which recently ranked the 40 most-populous metropolitan areas based on 2008 data on violent crime rates, natural disasters and traffic- and workplace-related deaths.
Within the list, the metropolitan area that includes Providence, New Bedford, Mass., and Fall River, Mass., had the sixth-lowest violent crime rate, the seventh-lowest workplace fatality rate, the 11th-lowest rate of traffic deaths and the 28th-lowest natural disaster risk.
The rankings were generated using crime statistics from the FBI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' information on workplace death rates, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's traffic death rates and SustainLane.com's rankings of natural disaster risks.
In the five-year period between 2002 and 2007, the overall crime rate in Providence decreased by 30 percent, with even sharper decreases in violent crimes such as rape and murder, according to Providence Police Department statistics. The first eight months of 2009 have seen a 12 percent decrease in the overall crime rate despite an uptick in violent crime in the last two years.
Lieutenant John Ryan, commander of Providence Police Department District 9, which includes College Hill, said the recent increases in violent crime — including increases in burglaries and assaults — might be due to the economic downturn.
But Ryan said he is not worried that the last two years represent a new trend for crime in Providence. "Like anything, it goes up and down," he said.
Ryan credits the overall drop in crime to cooperation among the different police districts in Providence.
"We all meet every week," Ryan said. "You pick up on the trends, and you assign your people."
Ryan said the effort to increase the on-foot police presence in communities since Mayor David Cicilline '83 took office in 2003 has resulted in "high visibility" and made people more likely to call the police when they see something suspicious.
"The people are a lot more alert now," he said.