Why is My Hometown the Safest City in America?

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Here’s the latest news from my hometown of Irvine:

In 2011, for the eighth year in a row, the Orange County city had the lowest violent crime rate of any U.S. city with a population larger than 100,000, the FBI said Monday. Irvine — population 214,872 — reported only 120 violent crimes last year, the same number as the year before.

I’ve never understood this. Irvine is your basic upper middle class suburban community, and it’s no surprise that our crime rate is low. But why is it consistently the lowest in the entire country? And not just that, but the lowest by quite a margin. If you look at the raw data, the violent crime rate in Irvine is 56 per 100,000. The second safest city is Naperville, Illinois, clocking in at 79 per 100,000. That’s a big jump from first place to second.

So what’s the deal? Why is it that year after year Irvine is so astonishingly safe, even compared to other upper middle class suburban cities? What’s our secret?

(If you’re curious, the most dangerous city in America is currently Flint, Michigan, with a violent crime rate of 2,337 per 100,000. Detroit is #2 and St. Louis is #3.)

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And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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