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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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