Reading Ranked High on List of Safest Communities

Who Gives The Ranking & Are We That Safe?

Ava Carlson ('21), Orbit Contributor

According to multiple sources and websites, Reading has ranked high in the lists of the safest communities and towns nationwide, a claim that was both supported and even questioned by both RMHS students and those involved in local law enforcement. 

Reading has been ranked the 14th safest town in Massachusetts by, the 11th safest city in Massachusetts by, and the 29th safest city in America in 2019 by Reading has a low crime rate with the  crime rate being 1,087 per 100,000 total population (almost all are non-violent property offenses), the chance of being a victim is 1 in 168, and the annual number of crimes is about 151, with only 5 being violent.  This is significantly lower than all surrounding towns according to 

According to Chief of Police David Clark on the Town of Reading Website, where the ranking was also published, “Reading makes safety a priority through collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the entire community.” 

Some students at RMHS tended to agree with the Chief of Police that Reading should be recognized as one of the safest towns. 

Emma Kehoe, an RMHS senior stated, “I feel very safe in this town and I feel there is a lot done to make sure this small town keeps up the reputation it deserves.” 

Laura Biggart, another RMHS senior echoed the same sentiment, “ I feel like Reading is pretty safe, you don’t really hear much crime, if any. I feel safe when I walk around town. So, I feel we are deserving.  The police in this town are pretty good.” 

Even with the low crime rates and statistics, some may disagree or have some uncertainty when it comes to the rank of Reading’s safety. In an email, the RMHS School Resource Officer, for instance, agreed that Reading was a safe town but was a bit hesitant to say that Reading was one of the top 50 safest towns.  

As far as being listed as one of the safest communities in the country and if we belong on that list it’s hard to say. I know that crime is low here in Reading and it’s a great community to live and work in but like all communities we do have our share of issues and crimes.  I’m sure there are plenty of towns in the United States that have a lower crime rate than Reading does that didn’t make the list you are talking about.  I think the people that live and work in Reading take pride in being a safe community and they do this by making sure the community is engaged with each other and the police department.  A strong community policing program and buy in of that program by town leadership, schools, police officers, and community members makes it easier to have everyone on the same page and to identify issues before they become a problem.”

Although Officer Lewis did not deny that Reading was a safe place to live, some students at RMHS  question how safe Reading actually is, especially regarding issues in the school over the past years. 

“Reading shouldn’t be in the top 30,” one RMHS senior who asked to remain anonymous stated. “I’m very surprised to be in the top 30. That’s insane, especially with all the trouble some kids cause at our school.”

There are some other instances in RMHS’s recent past that may challenge the idea that Reading is as safe of a town that it is represented by its rank. For instance, in the 2017-2018 school year in RMHS there was an issue with graffiti that displayed anti-Semetic and  racially offensive views around the school. Two years later there were instances of property damage, vandalism and even a trash can set on fire at the High School. 

In response to these incidents, a second anonymous RMHS student points out, “But when you put that in the grand schemes of things, if those two are the worst things that have happened in the town recently then you live in a very safe community. So, I do think Reading deserves this title.” 

Every town has had its fair share of incidents and for Reading to still maintain low crime rates relative to the rest of the country, and is recognized for it, shows how although Reading is not perfect, it is a safe place to live.