Appleton named safest city in America

Amanda Loder

Since the 1980s, the Appleton Police Department has been moving towards an approach that Mayor Hanna describes as “proactive.” According to the Mayor, this push over the last 15 or 20 years is the reason for Appleton being dubbed “the safest city in the U.S.” by Money Magazine, based on FBI crime statistics, and representing the number of violent crimes per capita (or, per 1,000 people). Former Police Chief Gorski first envisioned this proactive approach in the 1980s while analyzing demographics and statistics. Hanna describes Gorski as “a visionary.he really thought about the future rather than concentrating on the problems [of] today.” Using these statistics and demographics, Gorski predicted the national rise in juvenile crime, and pushed for what Hanna calls “community oriented policing” in order to prevent a similar rise in Appleton.

One of the proactive measures taken by the Appleton Police Department was the instatement of a Police School Liaison (PSL), an officer who is present in the public schools. The PSLs were first located at the middle and high schools, and this is the second year of PSL presence in Appleton’s elementary schools. “I think over time that [the] program has done a lot to mitigate the problem of youth crime,” said Hanna.

However, Appleton is not immune to juvenile crime-like many American cities, it, too, has a gang presence. Mayor Hanna stands by the success of the PSL program, stating, “I think over time that [the] program has done a lot to mitigate the problem of youth crime.we’ve got a better handle on gang activity than a lot of cities we would consider our neighbors: Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac.”

Appleton’s proactive policing does not end in public schools. Like any city, Appleton has its share of adult crime as well. Therefore, the PSL program has been extended to include Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) whose job, according to Hanna, is “to interact with various groups in the community.”

One of the programs handled by CLOs is for landlords. This program teaches the landlords how to keep their properties secure and how to do background checks on potential renters. CLOs also have a program for bar owners, teaching them how to recognize fake IDs and handle other problems associated with bar ownership, such as customer violence.

Through a variety of youth and community programs, Appleton has attempted, and succeeded, in stopping certain crimes before they become a problem. Prevention, however, is not cheap. According to Hanna, “When you add it all [up].a lot of [tax payer money] goes to keeping the community safe. It costs the city money to do [these programs], but it saves the city money in the long run.