Petal named one of country’s safest cities

By NIKKI SMITH,

Petal is known for its nicknames. The city is often referred to as the “Friendly City,” but it also has racked up accolades over the years, earning other names as well, such as “Best Place to Buy a Home” and “Best Town in Mississippi for Young Families.”

However, many across the state, and now the country, know Petal as one of the “Safest Cities in America.”

Recently, SafeWise named Petal No. 77 on its list of 2017’s 100 Safest Cities in America. The website analyzes FBI crime statistics from each state and researches each city’s public safety, public health and educational offerings to compile its list.

Petal was previously listed at 205 on the site’s list, but now holds down the No. 77 slot.

“It is always good to be included on the list of safest cities,” said Mayor Hal Marx of the distinction.

“Our police department and our citizens deserve credit for achieving this honor,” he added, giving credit to those who made the ranking possible. “It takes both the police and the citizenry working together to help keep our crime rate low. It is one of the many great things about living in the City of Petal.”

The website includes a brief description of the cities on the list. The following is what the SafeWise team wrote about Petal:

“Living in Petal, Mississippi, is a dream for residents. Aside from affordable housing, mild winters and a low unemployment rate, Petal also has very low crime. We’re not the only ones to notice, either. Petal was named the ‘Best Town in Mississippi for Young Families’ by Nerdwallet.com and touted as the Sports Illustrated ‘Sportstown for Mississippi’ because of its exceptional trails, golf courses and more. We’re glad that this city is safe enough for everyone to get out and experience all it has to offer.”

Petal has a population of approximately 11,000. As for its ranking as one of the country’s safest, the city boasts a low violent crime rate.

Violent crimes per 1,000 residents clocks in at 0.28, while property crimes come in around 4.40.

“Some people think that means we have no crime,” Marx said of Petals “Safest City” distinction. “It does not. Every city has crime of some kind and some number. Petal is fortunate that we have a very low crime rate, especially among violent crimes.”

Police Chief Leonard Fuller has said that Petal’s low crime rate could have something to do with the police department’s focus on community policing.

“I stress community policing,” Chief Fuller has said. “Officers visit schools and talk to residents. Just so the community can get to know the officers.”

He said he also encourages the department of 26 officers to speak with business owners and go talk to residents instead of only riding around and taking reports.

“Being a small department, instead of just going out there and only doing reports, our officers are working with detectives and go and try to solve the burglary and whatever crime may have occurred,” Chief Fuller said. “Our officers are pretty proactive out there. Involved and trying to locate suspects.”