SAN MARCOS — The city of San Marcos was recently ranked as the 25th safest city in the state in SafeWise’s sixth annual Safest Cities report, which is based on the rate of violent crimes and property crimes in each city.
The safety report was created using FBI crime statistics and U.S. census population data to rank the safest cities in each state and across the country.
San Marcos, with a population of more than 98,000, has some of the lowest crime rates in San Diego County, according to San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
“In San Marcos, domestic violence is about 70 percent of the violent crime, so the people who are not in those specific households and in those situations are even safer than it looks on paper. In terms of property crime, shoplifting, or petty theft, is the vast majority of it,” said Dave Brown, commander of the patrol division for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and former captain of the Sheriff’s Department’s San Marcos Station.
Violent crimes include aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery, while property crimes include petty theft, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
For years, San Diego County has had lower crime rates when compared with other metro regions in the United States, and the city of San Marcos has had declining crime rates for about a decade, according to Brown.
Poway, Encinitas, Escondido, Carlsbad and Vista have also seen declining crime rates over the past several years, with Poway (13th) and Encinitas (29th) also ranking in the report’s top 30 cities.
“It helps that our neighbors are doing well also,” Brown said. “There are no gates or mountain ranges in between our cities, it’s seamless. No one can really go much further unless their neighbors go further, too.”
Brown also credited a variety of other factors for the city’s low crime rates, including the RESPECT Project, which is a youth character-building and mentoring program, and Camp LEAD (Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity), a mentoring program for high school students.
According to Brown, two years after the RESPECT program was started, gang activity and gang crime was cut in half in San Marcos.
“Investing in youth and the heavy use of the parks, programs and recreation centers are a huge reason that San Marcos has been able to get the crime rate down over the years,” Brown said. “We also have a cooperative city and a cooperative population. Not every place has the city and the police and fire department and the parks all on the same page working toward the same goal.”
Once San Marcos’ population passes the 100,000 mark, it could be a contender for one of the top 10 safest in the country for cities over 100,000.
“Public safety is a top priority at the City of San Marcos,” Mayor Rebecca Jones said. “We’re proud to have earned the distinction as one of California’s safest cities thanks to the City’s proactive crime-prevention programs and the outstanding law enforcement services of the San Diego County Sheriff’s San Marcos station.”