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Website names Pullman country’s 15th safest college town

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 7, 2019

WSU's Bryan Hall clock tower and red brick buildings are well known symbols of the Pullman campus.  --Shawn Jacobson photo (SR)
WSU's Bryan Hall clock tower and red brick buildings are well known symbols of the Pullman campus. --Shawn Jacobson photo (SR)

Pullman was ranked the 15th safest college town in the nation by Safewise, a website that analyzes and evaluates security products, on Wednesday.

“I’m pleased that there are organizations out there that recognize the entire community of Pullman and the effort that it takes at all levels to provide a safe college town,” said Chris Tennant, Pullman Police Department commander.

But Tennant said he takes it with a grain of salt.

“I’m personally not a big statistics guy, because you can manipulate stats to say whatever you want them to say,” Tennant said.

The 50 college towns were ranked based on data from the U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security. The home to Washington State University is new to the list.

Violent crime rates and property crime rates were used to rank the college towns.

Pullman’s violent crime rate is 0.68 per 1,000 individuals, far below the national average of 4.49.

The property crime rate in Pullman is 15.22 per 1,000 people, also lower than the national average of 27.11.

The data showed that on-campus drug abuse violations went up from 246 in 2016 to 333 in 2017 but that liquor law violations went down from 390 in 2016 to 234 in 2017.

That data includes information from both the Pullman and WSU police departments.

“I’m flattered,” said Bill Gardner, police chief of the WSU Police Department. “We generally rank pretty highly in that safety scale.”

There weren’t any specific safety improvements that stood out to Gardner this year, he said.

“I can’t name specific improvements, but I know that both police departments here in town are working really hard to develop good relationships,” Gardner said.

The data Safewise used doesn’t include information on calls like disorderly conduct, disturbance, dispute or noise complaints.

The number of disturbance, disorderly and dispute calls in Pullman rose from 961 in 2017 to 1,213 in 2018. But Tennant said that difference could be attributed to a change in data collection.

Gardner said he didn’t see a large difference in disorderly conduct related calls this year.

“I don’t see that significantly displaced by our statistics, but you know we are a town with a very young demographic, so we have our share of that kind of behavior,” Gardner said.

There have been numerous incidents of students falling out of dorm windows and balconies on the WSU campus in recent years. However, incidents like these do not appear in the data analyzed by Safewise.

Both Tennant and Gardner agreed Pullman is a safe place to be.

“I consider Pullman to have always been a very safe community,” Gardner said.

It’s safer now than it was 10 years ago, and strides are being made in community policing and communication, Tennant said.

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