UPDATE: SafeWise has updated their website to reflect Kirkland's new ranking as 19/50. Please see Kirkland Ranked One Of The Safest WA Cities Former Ranking Erroneous
The City of Kirkland has been rated as one of the 50 safest cities in Washington according to SafeWise, an online website with a mission to, "help make your home and community safe."
Is this something of which we should be proud? I should say not. Rather, we should be concerned that we rank so low.
Being ranked 50th among Washington cities with populations over 5,000 may sound good on the surface, but how does Kirkland rank when compared to its neighbors? Isn't that the more relevant measure?
It matters not how Kirkland compares to Long View or Yakima. What matters is how Kirkland compares to Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, Issaquah and Woodinville -- our closest neighbors. These are comparable cities, or as comparable as can be, on the Eastside. These are the cities with which Kirkland is compared when families and businesses are looking for a new home.
According to AreaVibes Crime Rates, Reports & Statistics, Kirkland's violent crime rate is 49% lower than the Washington average. This is good... or is it?
The same website has a tool which compares cities to each other. Here is data comparing Kirkland to Redmond:
- Redmond, WA is 16.2% less dangerous to live in than Kirkland, WA.
- In Redmond, WA as compared to Kirkland, WA you are: 39.9% less likely to get robbed, 48.9% less likely to get your car stolen.
In fact, Kirkland compares rather poorly on crime statistics versus these other Eastside cities:
- Bellevue is 5.1% less dangerous to live in than Kirkland
- Bothell is 12.8% less dangerous to live in than Kirkland
- Redmond is 16.2% less dangerous to live in than Kirkland
- Issaquah is 21.1% less dangerous to live in than Kirkland
- Woodinville is 9.3% more dangerous to live in than Kirkland
So, what does this all mean? Crime statistics can be misleading and it is difficult to compare apples to apples, so to speak. I am a strong supporter of Kirkland Police Department and I think they do a wonderful job protecting our neighborhoods. How safe Kirklanders feel is important.
But how Kirkland compares to its neighbors is also very relevant. We need to improve our standing among Eastside cities. From my perspective, being ranked the number 50 safest city out of 50 Washington cities is nothing to be proud about.
I want Kirkland to be the most livable city, to have the least crime, the best schools and the most vibrant economy possible. I want Kirkland to aim high and achieve greatness.
Let us look at this ranking as a benchmark from which we can improve -- actually, if we don't we will fall off the list.
For the record, the statistics quoted above are compiled by private firms. Government crime statistics are also available and may paint a different picture. I was alerted to the news that Kirkland is among the safest cities in Washington via Twitter. Seeing Kirkland ranked # 50 out of 50, prompted the question: Are we proud of this result or should we be concerned?
I want Kirkland to be able to boast about how safe it is visa vie its neighbors, not Washington state as a whole. What will it take for Kirkland to improve? It takes citizens demanding more from our government and it takes our elected officials recognizing a fact they choose to ignore:
Public safety is Job One of government. Everything else is secondary.
So, how does Kirkland rank among our peers? Not well. Here are the safety rankings from SafeWise, for what it's worth:
6. West Richland
7. Bainbridge Island
8. Liberty Lake
11. Mercer Island
14. Maple Valley
17. Mill Creek
19. Battle Ground
23. Lake Forest Park
25. College Place
26. Lake Stevens
34. East Wenatchee
39. Mountlake Terrace
42. University Place
43. Bonney Lake
44. Oak Harbor
46. Normandy Park
47. Port Townsend
According to the website, the rankings were devised from a combination of "independent research with the 2012 FBI Crime Report."