Our View: Boise more than deserves its safe reputation

Statesman staffAugust 11, 2013 

We often scratch our heads when national “rankings” come touting or chastising a state or community for some aspect of its amenities, strengths or weaknesses.

Healthiest. Best Value. Most Fit. Best Educated. Most Obese. Best Place To Retire. Most Dangerous. Last in this. First in that.

We take a critical look at the categories measured to discern whether there was really a level playing field or some hidden agenda foisted by an invisible sponsor of these surveys.

So, when Boise was mentioned in the Top 20 Safest U.S. Cities (with populations of 200,000 or more) by Business Insider magazine, we wanted to apply the usual scrutiny to such rankings. Boise? Seventh-safest? In the country?

Beyond the FBI crime statistics, which position Boise very well, there are rivers and greenbelts full of anecdotal evidence that probably go further in convincing newcomers and visitors than lifelong residents. But when people move here from the Most Dangerous cities or even quasi-sketchy urban areas, it’s not long before they develop deeper sleep and community roots.

Boise is not free of crime. Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson acknowledges that. But at the same time, he recognizes that layers of law enforcement, community groups, and neighborhood and business associations all contribute to the safety we enjoy.

In a written statement, Masterson said: “What’s most important is that people feel safe in Boise. We live in a city and state that offer some of the best opportunities for healthy families, outdoor lifestyles, business and recreation. It’s our partnerships that keep us safe, make us feel safe, and make this the most livable city in the country.”

Though we don’t recommend it, we know of neighbors and entire neighborhoods where people don’t lock their doors.

People we know and sometimes see in a mirror have carelessly left wallets and cellphones on store shelves while evaluating merchandise — and had them returned intact.

Boise in the Top 10 of safest cities? We buy it, and we think we should do everything in our power to sell it.

“It’s great news,” said Bill Connors, president and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

He said that kind of cachet can attract businesses or convince them to expand because “low crime means lower insurance, lower taxes and a better quality of life. ... crime costs a lot of money.”

Feeling safe is priceless.

“Our View” is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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