Bayfield residents can sleep well knowing that their town is the safest municipality in La Plata County, and the 27th safest small town in Colorado, according to a recent AdvisorSmith study.
AdvisorSmith, a business insurance company, ranked 83 small Colorado towns according to Federal Bureau of Investigation 2018 datasets. Bayfield, a quiet town with a population of 2,700 people, showed lower rates of property crime and violent crime than its neighbors, Ignacio and Durango.
“That tells me that my guys are doing a good job,” said Bayfield Marshal Joe McIntyre.
The AdvisorSmith study analyzed violent crime data, including rape, murder, assault and robbery, and property crime data, like burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
In a population-controlled analysis, Bayfield had 1.5 violent crimes per 1,000 people, fewer than Pagosa Springs, 2; Durango, 2.7; Cortez, 3; and Ignacio, 4.1.
Bayfield also had fewer property crimes, 11.3 per 1,000 people, compared with Ignacio, 19.1; Cortez, 27.4; Pagosa Springs, 35.5; and Durango, 35.5. The study left out towns with fewer than six months of data in the FBI datasets.
“It reflects the work our department has done to bring down our crime rate,” McIntyre said.
By 2017, the town’s crime rates had reduced to 2003 levels, he said. Rates have stayed at that level, according to his recollection of 2019 crime rates.
The department’s success comes down to staffing, community outreach and team assignments, McIntyre said.
For example, it added additional staff members so it could patrol the community 24/7. Deputies prioritized community outreach in different ways, like stopping into community centers or talking with business owners. The department also created districts and assigned deputies to each zone so they would get to know the neighborhoods and residents.
“They really knew what didn’t fit and what didn’t belong,” McIntyre said.
The analysis also scored communities based on their crime rates, including an adjusted score for violent crimes to indicate their serious nature, according to AdvisorSmith.
Bayfield, with a ranking of 27 out of 83 small towns, had a crime score of 26.7. Ignacio ranked 69th, with a score of 73.7. The average crime score for small towns was 48.
Durango ranked 22nd out of 34 mid-sized cities in Colorado with a crime score of 67.2. The average was 57.
The Ignacio Police Department and Durango Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
And the safest small town in Colorado: Wray – east of Yuma near the state line.