How safe is our area? - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

How safe is our area?

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Every day we hear about violence and the impact it has. But how often violence happens depends on the area.

In Wisconsin violent crime has dropped during the past five years with several thousand fewer incidents in 2011 than 2007, according to the Wisconsin Justice Information Center.

Violent crime includes four areas as defined by the FBI: murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Each individual category has also fallen over five years.

But what about in our area? In Marathon County the perception is it's a pretty safe place to live.

"For the most part, people are hard working, they care about where they live," said Wausau Police Lt. Mark Pankow.

"We've got great mental health facilities, we've got great community outreach, and people just tend to have that more friendly approach to things," added Marathon County Sheriff's Lt. Chad Billeb.

Official statistics back up this perception of safety.

According to CQ Press, using the most recent FBI data from 2011, the Wausau metropolitan area ranked 17th safest in the entire country.

Here's how it breaks down: since 2006, Wausau has seen just five murders, according to police statistics. In the Everest Metro area, there have been seven.

For rape. with the exception of 2011, Wausau has seen fewer than two dozen reported a year since 2006, and they're rare in Everest Metro.

There have been just a few dozen cases of robbery each year in Wausau, according to police statistics, and a handful in Everest Metro.

The number of aggravated assaults in the community is higher, but not off the charts.

"I think we've done a good job here," said Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple. "You can always do better to increase the safety."

Tipple says the city has an excellent police force. He also says the community helps out.

"We've used the community policing model in our community for many years, and what that does is we have various sectors, we have six sectors in the city of Wausau," said Tipple. "What we do is we have the same officers on the same sectors day in and day out, and so they establish a relationship with the citizens."

Certainly, Wausau isn't totally free of violent crime, and just one incident is too many. But the numbers paint a pretty positive picture, compared to the rest of the country.

Earlier this week, Newsline 9 held a town hall meeting at Dale's Weston Lanes with community members, leaders, and experts. Many people shared their thoughts and ideas about violence in our community and how to prevent it. This special 30-minute presentation of "Stop the Violence" will air on Newsline 9 on Thursday, February 21, at 6:30 p.m.

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