Study finds Portland, Maine, safest city in New England

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Portland was found to be the fourth-safest city in the country. (Courtesy photo)

With the U.S. experiencing over 500 mass shootings this year and the COVID-19 pandemic persisting, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022's Safest Cities in American as well as expert commentary.

To determine where Americans can feel most protected against life's hazards, including nonphysical forms of danger, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 42 key metrics. The data set ranges from the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated and assaults per capita to the unemployment rate and road quality.

Safest Cities in America Least Safe Cities in America
1. Columbia, MD 173. Chattanooga, TN
2. Nashua, NH 174. Jackson, MS
3. Laredo, TX 175. Oakland, CA
4. Portland, ME 176. Oklahoma City, OK
5. Warwick, RI 177. Memphis, TN
6. Yonkers, NY 178. Baton Rouge, LA
7. Gilbert, AZ 179. Detroit, MI
8. Burlington, VT 180. San Bernardino, CA
9. Raleigh, NC 181. Fort Lauderdale, FL
10. Lewiston, ME 182. St. Louis, MO

Safest vs. Least Safe

  • Irvine, California, has the fewest aggravated assault incidents (per 100,000 residents), 22.22, which is 86.3 times fewer than in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the most at 1,917.08.
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida, has the fewest thefts (per 1,000 residents), 8.26, which is 9.2 times fewer than in Salt Lake City, the city with the most at 75.93.
  • Washington has the most law-enforcement employees (per 100,000 residents), 624, which is 6.8 times more than in Chula Vista, California, the city with the fewest at 92.
  • Gilbert, Arizona, has among the fewest pedestrian fatalities (per 100,000 residents), 0.40, which is 25.3 times fewer than in Little Rock, Arkansas, the city with the most at 10.10.

To read the full report and your city's rank, please visit:

Expert Commentary

What steps should local authorities take to help reduce the public costs associated with clean-ups after major natural disasters? Should flood or other types of insurance be mandatory?

"Local communities, of course, require insurance to help defray the costs associated with natural disasters. That is an essential requirement. But insurance alone will not cover all the costs of cleanup. And because insurance is sometimes less than adequate, I have always felt that cities and towns should also have several local civic organizations that they can call into action to help with repairs and remove debris. These include, among others, a civil defense committee, boy scouts and girl scouts, 4-H clubs, auxiliary police officers, and even volunteer committees based in churches. President George H.W. Bush's support for 'One-Thousand Points of Light' would go a long way toward helping communities after hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters."
Gary L. Rose, Ph.D. - Professor & Chair, Department of Government, Sacred Heart University

"The first thing municipalities should do is stay in compliance with FEMA regulations regarding hazard mitigation plans to be eligible for FEMA funds after a disaster. This can include having an up-to-date hazard and risk assessment and mitigation plan, adopting construction standards for roads and bridges, and possibly programs designed to protect waterways and the lands around them. The second thing a jurisdiction should do is be proactive in hazard mitigation practices. In areas prone to flooding, for example, protecting river banks with vegetation, armoring with rocks, or other ways to prevent erosion during floods can save many thousands of dollars...Insurance is an important part of resiliency and rebuilding. Policy holders need to be very careful to read the fine print on their policies. For example, there have been many instances where a 'hurricane policy did not pay for damages caused by 'flooding' even though the flooding was directly caused by the hurricane. However, flood insurance may be mandated by mortgage lenders. It is very expensive and, in some cases, may make a house unaffordable for some borrowers."
Doug Babcock - Adjunct Instructor, Saint Michael's College

What measures can police departments take to increase public trust? How important is it to have a police force that is representative of the local community?

"The idea of community policing has shown some success in increasing public trust. In this model, the police are viewed less as crime responders and as more of a community resource. They are in the community, getting to know residents, business people, etc., and understanding their problems. They often walk around neighborhoods, rather than cruising in a car. This model can improve response time to crimes, as well as prevent them in some cases. Representation is important, as well, as community policing will work better when the police look like the neighborhoods they are patrolling."
Keith Boeckelman - Professor, Western Illinois University

"Racial diversity is essential for urban police forces in particular. Racial diversity normally contributes to building trust between persons of color and the police. And the more trust there is, the more chance the police have of effectively preventing crime. Gender diversity is also helpful in virtually all communities, regardless of whether they are urban, suburban, or even rural. The demographics of a police force do not have to be an exact mirror of a community's demographics, but a conscious attempt to establish a highly qualified and diverse police force is essential in today's society."
Gary L. Rose, Ph.D. - Professor & Chair, Department of Government, Sacred Heart University

What can consumers do to increase their financial literacy since sound financial decisions increase a person's financial safety?

"Financial literacy can be accomplished by taking a practical and perhaps non-credit college course, on-ground or online, that focuses on managing home finances and taxation. Also, reading about personal wealth management from reliable media sources and authors would help, and if needed, asking a person who understands the world of personal finance to serve as a financial mentor would also help. Placing your finances under the direction of a financial advisor is NOT the answer, while self-education is. How to set home budgets, pay bills, pay taxes, and how to allocate spending within the context of one's home budget are what persons need to learn first and foremost. Basic financial literacy is not difficult to learn. More sophisticated learning beyond what I have suggested would be required to understand categories such as the stock market, money markets, and global equities. Literacy related to these categories of finance would require intensive reading and advanced education."
Gary L. Rose, Ph.D. - Professor & Chair, Department of Government, Sacred Heart University

"One of the biggest things people can do for financial preparedness in a disaster is to prepare an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) from FEMA. Completing this kit will help a person develop a solid understanding of their finances and how to access critical information in a disaster. In a more general sense, financial literacy is critical. Unfortunately, many studies show that a significant number of Americans do not know what they need to be prepared for. Many people do not have enough in savings to pay their bills for more than a month if they should lose their income stream. Many people are underfunding their retirements and overextending on credit. People should learn about credit, investing, and good strategies for saving and controlling debt. They should also work with a financial planner to get an objective view of their habits and their future needs."
Doug Babcock - Adjunct Instructor, Saint Michael's College

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