Nassau deemed safest community in America by U.S. News & World Report

Robert Pelaez

September 29, 2020

Originally published in The Island Now on September 29, 2020.

After reports of decreased crime in Nassau County in the first half of 2020 surfaced last week, U.S. News & World Report deemed Nassau the safest community in America.

The report compared 3,000 communities across the nation, analyzing crime rates, fatal vehicular accidents, and the amount of money a community spends on health and emergency services, which Nassau ranked tops in the nation in.

According to the report, Nassau spends $1,148 per capita on police and fire protection while the national median is $359.  Public safety professionals account for 1.26 percent of the county’s population, compared with the national median of 0.70 percent.

More than 82 percent of the county’s population, according to the report, is deemed to be “living close to emergency facilities.”  This number compared with almost 37 percent in the nation and just more than 69 percent in New York.

“As County Executive, keeping Nassau residents safe is my highest priority,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “That’s why I’m especially proud to report that Nassau County has been named the safest community in America in 2020.”

Nassau beat out Rockland County, Westchester County and Richmond County, the only other New York counties to crack the national top 10.

Curran praised the work of the Nassau County Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, first responders and all law enforcement officials for their part in achieving the distinction.

“We’ve made a commitment to community policing and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and the results are showing,” Curran said. “As always, we will continue to put the health and safety of Nassau residents first.”

Last week, officials said there was a drop in major crime in Nassau and Suffolk counties in the first half of 2020.  Examples of major crimes include murder, rape, sexual molestation, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, and motor vehicle larceny-theft.

Officials said overall major crime dropped 7.78 percent in Nassau County during the first half of 2020 compared with the first six months of 2019.   Homicides in Nassau County declined from seven in the first half of 2019 to five in the same period this year. Rape cases declined by one, officials said.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder praised his fellow law enforcement officials for their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“The cops never laid down during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ryder told Newsday. “Our overall crime number, we’ve had record-low reductions in the last 12 years. We have constantly gone down every year.”

Residential burglaries in Nassau, however, increased by nearly 4 percent from the first half of last year to the first half of this year, according to officials, and commercial burglaries jumped more than 40 percent over the same period, according to officials.

Ryder told Newsday he attributed this to the newly implemented bail reform laws that went into effect at the beginning of the year. According to a July report from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, the population of jails in Nassau County declined by more than 40 percent over the past year.

The report showed that the population in Nassau County’s jail went from 1,031 in July 2019 to 580 in July 2020.