Morgan Hill is one of the top 50 “Safest Cities” in California due to the city’s low property and violent crime rates, according to a recent study by a public safety and home security research company.
Morgan Hill ranks number 32 on the 2021 list compiled by Safewise, which conducts safest-city rankings annually in all 50 states. Morgan Hill’s violent crime rate for 2020 is estimated at 1.1 per 1,000 residents. The local property crime rate is 15.2 per 1,000, according to the Safewise rankings.
By comparison, the estimated violent crime and property crime rates in California are 4.4 and 23.3 per 1,000, respectively, according to Safewise.
Only two other cities in the Bay Area—Danville and San Ramon—ranked higher than Morgan Hill in the Safewise rankings. Hollister ranked as the number 30 safest city in California.
Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine noted that the city council and City Hall officials have long placed public safety as a top priority for the community, and the Safewise rank is at least partially the result of the work put in locally to keep the city safe.
“That is a testament not only to our police and firefighters, but also our citizens,” Constantine said. “We have a lot of neighbors that look out for each other. We all play a role… It shows that what we are doing is working.”
The safety ranking does not mean that Morgan Hill is adequately staffed in the police department and other services that contribute to community safety, Constantine noted. He pointed out that Morgan Hill still needs a third fire station—which has been on the city’s wish list for years—but the city doesn’t yet have the funding to staff such a facility.
The Safewise ranking methodology is based almost exclusively on crime statistics reported by local authorities to the FBI, according to the Safewise website. The crime numbers are adjusted for population so that cities of different sized populations can be compared more equally. The methodology also takes each city’s demographic information into account.
The top 50 safest cities list is based on crime data from 2019, the latest year for which such information is available. Thus, it does not account for any spikes in crime or homelessness related to the Covid-19 pandemic that started in March 2020.
From an economic development perspective, small business owners looking for locations to open new stores or facilities routinely look at local crime rates surrounding potential sites, according to Assistant City Manager Edith Ramirez.
The image and feeling of safety also helps the city itself attract devoted employees.
“As an employer, we have an interest to attract and retain employees who have options where they work and where they want to be,” Ramirez said. “I do think that being a safe community supports the city’s ability to attract and retain companies and businesses.”
Ramirez noted that in recent months, increases in crime related to the pandemic have indeed negatively impacted some business districts in the Bay Area.
Statewide, the Safewise study included a survey that found only 40% of Californians feel safe. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents are worried about gun violence, and 77% are worried about the pandemic.
Violent crime is a “top concern” for 54% of Californians, Safewise found.
The top 10 safest cities in the list, in order, are: Danville, Rancho Santa Margarita, Moorpark, Rancho Palos Verdes, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Yorba Linda, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo and Lincoln.