Site lists Merrimack as No. 19 of safest communities in U.S.

Nineteen isn’t just a place on a list for Mark Doyle, even if the list is of the 100 safest communities in the country. For the chief of the Merrimack Police Department, it’s recognition that a community-based policing philosophy is paying dividends.

“We’ve created so many partnerships in the community, and the proof is in the pudding,” Doyle said Tuesday, Feb. 11. “I think the key is really forming those partnerships over the last few years as we developed our community policing philosophy.”

The list of the 100 safest communities in 2014 was compiled by NeighborhoodScout.com and compared how many crimes including burglary, theft, assault and rape police reported to the FBI and how many of those crimes occurred per 1,000 people for towns with a population of 25,000 or more, according to the site.

Merrimack came in at 19 this year, sandwiched between Rexburg, Idaho and Cheshire, Conn. Merrimack is the only New Hampshire community on the list.

This is Merrimack’s third year on the list after placing 34th the previous two years, according to the site.

The safest community in the country, by NeighborhoodScout.com’s estimation, is Franklin, Mass., one of 25 New England cities and towns on the list.

East St. Louis, Ill., was named the most dangerous city in the country.

David Yakuboff, vice chairman of the Merrimack Town Council, said one thing that highlights how Merrimack police do things a little differently is that they still help people who have locked their keys in their car and conduct house checks when people are on vacation.

“The police are very, very in tune with the people of Merrimack … They go out and talk to the community,” Yakuboff said. “Whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it right … especially the police department.”

Yakuboff said investing in the police department and public safety in general has paid off.

“We’re putting all the right money in the right places to make sure our infrastructure is there,” he said. “We’ve made sure police and fire have received what they need and we’ve been making sure they’re proactive in catching the bad guys.”

Doyle said years of reaching out to leaders in the town’s schools and civic organizations has paid off. Merrimack police offer a slew of community programs, including everything from a citizen’s police academy and house checks to neighborhood watch programs and a prescription drug drop box in the department’s lobby. Officers visit schools in town to read to students and conduct patrols nearby sports tournaments held by the Merrimack Youth Association, Doyle said.

“We’re very, very proud. I’m very proud of all the employees,” he said. “It goes deeper than that. It’s a whole community approach and it’s credit across the board. It’s really about getting the word out about all that the police department can do for people.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC). Bradford Randall contributed to this story.