Hibbing named safest city to live in Minnesota

By KBJR News 1

August 26, 2014 Updated Aug 26, 2014 at 11:09 AM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The phrase 'safety first' has taken on a new meaning in Hibbing.
The Iron Range city ranks number one on a list of safest places to live in Minnesota.

Take a walk through downtown Hibbing and you'll notice something different.

"People have been behaving themselves more, let's put it that way, so statistically our reporting is down as far as the major issues like serious assaults" said Sgt. Jeff Ronchetti of the Hibbing Police Department.

The "Safe Choices Security Company" created a list based on crime rates and indexes of over 500 cities in Minnesota, and Hibbing took the top spot.
Those who deal with crime the most say they can't completely take credit for the award.

"It's a city effort, I mean it's like I said, it's not just the police department, it's a reflection on the whole city and it's the quality of life in our community" said Ronchetti.

But it's the interaction between police and their community that's made a big difference on crime.

"One of the things I decided when I got a chance to be chief was that we needed to change our department image, instead of being reactive, we wanted to be proactive, a little bit more approachable" said Police Chief MaryAnn Hooper.

Chief Hooper says initiatives like Next Door Project, DARE, Coffee and Lunch with a cop and social media are making officers in her department more in tune with their community.

"A lot of times when you see police officers it's 'oh, it's a negative thing', but in many cases now, people see these police officers now and they're getting involved with them. They're stopping to talk and visiting with them and it's making a big difference just being out in the community" said Hibbing City Administrator, Tom Dicklich.

Chief Hooper, on the job for a year, has worked through some tough constraints.

"She's been able to take a tough budget situation and a tough staffing situation due to some unforeseen circumstances and she's been able to keep up the same level of service to the citizens who pay their taxes and it's pretty impressive how she's been able to do it" said Dicklich.

..and if you ask Chief Hooper how it feels to have her community recognized.

"Nice, it makes you proud to be a member of your community" said Chief Hooper.

A community that now tops the list in safety.

City administrators say being number one is a great achievement.
They say they want to hold onto the prestigious position.

Bryce Henry