Irvine is accustomed to patting itself on the back for “safest city” accolades. For the past 13 years, FBI violent crime data helped put the beige capital of the United States atop the nation’s safest big cities time and time again. Even though Haven Life, an online life insurance company, looked beyond FBI crime statistics to include binge drinking, smoking, property crime and accidental deaths for their recent top ten ranking, Irvine claimed first place honors–surprise, surprise.
But what about SanTana? In a ranking sure to trigger Orange County’s Mexi haters, anti-gentrification activists and cholos alike, SanTana also cracked the top 10 by placing ninth safest in the nation, the only other big OC city to make the cut (take THAT Anacrime!).
Here’s how the Golden City did it, according to Haven Life.
- Overall score: 83.72
- Violent crime rate: 490.8 per 100,000 people
- Property crime rate: 2,100.1 per 100,000 people
- Accidental death rate: 22.9 per 100,000 people
- Binge drinking rate: 14.4% of adults
- Smoking rate: 15.7% of adults
The safest city survey additionally touts SanTana’s low unemployment rates and efforts to create a civilian police oversight committee in hyping the distinction. For the latter, the blurb even linked to a Weekly article that reported on city council debates over the issue following two multi-million dollar settlements in police shooting civil cases in 2016–the same year this rag ran an editorial cartoon showing SanTana’s iconic water tower spouting blood from bullet holes following an unfortunate spat of gang-related shootings.
So what’s changed since then?
Gaining a nod from a seemingly unlikely source, Haven Life opined that police oversight would make SanTana safer for residents and law enforcement alike. Kudos to the life insurance company for seeing it that way. Too bad SanTana city council doesn’t, thanks to police union-backed politicians who effectively killed momentum for the reform–one that black civil rights activists first petitioned for in 1965!
The Santa Ana Police Officers Association gained another seat after a council candidate they backed won election in November, giving the union an outright majority. Don’t expect police oversight to arrive anytime soon with that in mind, even if a life insurance company can see wisdom where the po-po can’t!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!