When a reference book was released last week ranking Glendale as the second-safest large city in the United States, no one there seemed too surprised. City officials gloated about the performance of the Police Department, and police tipped their hats to the law-obeying citizenry.
According to the book, published by Kansas-based Morgan Quitno Press and compiled from 1993 FBI statistics, the crime rate in six categories--murder, violent crime, rape, robbery, property crimes and aggravated assault--was among the lowest in the nation among major cities.
The safest city in the nation, according to the book, is Huntington Beach, while Fremont, Calif., placed third.
To be sure, Glendale has its share of murders and robberies. But the city, once a relatively homogeneous Anglo suburb, appears to have remained statistically safe while over the last 15 years evolving into a melting pot of myriad ethnicities. The city's population is approaching 200,000.
Occasionally, there are signs of tension, such as gang violence or a hate crime, which some longtime residents attribute to the community's changes.
Do the statistics really represent the reality of daily life in Glendale?
Chahe Keuroghelian, intercultural coordinator, Glendale Police Department
"We're very pleased with the outcome of the study, but people need to know the guidelines of the study, which have not been made public. No cities with populations of less than 175,000 were included, so we were basically competing against Huntington Beach and Fremont for the title of safest city. There may have been many cities out there with populations of 100,000 or more that have lower crime rates but were not included.
"I am concerned that people who hear that we are ranked the second safest city in the nation may sit back and relax now, thinking we have achieved a goal and we will always rank at the same level. We, the Police Department, did not achieve this ranking by ourselves. We had the cooperation of the city government and the public."
Jerry Watson, assistant principal, Roosevelt Junior High School, and member, Los Angeles County Youth Gang Task Force
"Unfortunately, we still do have some gangs. . . . What I have seen is a decrease in the violent crime in Glendale, due primarily to the efforts of the Police Department. We've got a special enforcement division, which is the suppression arm, and then you've got the gang unit, which is the intervention arm. So, we've got police who are intervening in a positive way, but at the same time with a firm hand."
Garry Ackerman, president, Adams Hill Homeowners Assn.
"As a salesman covering most of L.A. County throughout the whole week, it's always a pleasure coming back to Glendale because you feel secure. You don't have to lock your car, like you do in a lot of places. . . . The police are on top of the gang issue, not that we don't have gangs, but I think they're trying to prevent it every way they can. . . . Glendale is one of the few communities that would do something like that, to try and prevent problems before they happen."
Suzi Ajalat, junior, Hoover High School and student member of the Glendale Board of Education
"Glendale is safe because the community is good at identifying potential problems and correcting them before they become big problems. Our school system works together with the Glendale Police Department on an after-school watch program. They took the old driver's ed cars and put a light bar across the top, and they have teachers patrol the area around the three high school campuses after school every day. I've talked to students and they really feel it's helped crime go down and they feel safer walking home from school. It's definitely helped reduce loitering in the residential streets around the schools."