Where is one of the safest places to raise a child in the United States? Why in Middletown Township, of course!
Safewise, a home security and safety advice website, has ranked Middletown the safest place in New Jersey and the fifth safest place in the United States to raise a child in their newly released report, The 30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child.
“Our ranking as one of the top five places in the United States to raise a child once again affirms our assertion that Middletown is a great place to live,” said Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger. “The accolade is concrete evidence that the township’s police department and its school district continue to be among the absolute best in the nation.”
To compile this report, SafeWise analyzed FBI violent crime data, sex offender populations, state graduation rates, and school rankings, and also factored in after-school programs and open spaces. They also looked for programs that were kid-friendly and unique, according to the report.
FBI crime statistics for 2015 show that the township’s crime rate had been at its lowest level since 1969. Preliminary statistics for this year show overall crime has declined significantly compared to last year. In addition to a dwindling crime rate, the police department offers kid-centric programs such as safety seat checkpoints, youth weeks, and a comprehensive drug education program to keep children safe and happy.
The L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Officers Against Drugs) program is taught to fifth grade students at all 12 public elementary schools. The program is focused on promoting healthy development, academic success and the benefits of a drug free lifestyle. The department has 13 officers trained to teach the “Too Good For Drugs” curriculum.
“We are very proud that Middletown is among the top five safest places in the nation to raise a child,” said Police Chief R. Craig Weber. “A large measure of credit for the ranking belongs to the dedicated officers serving in our department.”
“A close relationship with the schools and the community has enabled us to provide a safe environment to raise a child,” Weber said.
The Police Department works with Middletown’s Municipal Alliance to Prevent Alcoholism and Substance Abuse on Project PLUS, an after-school program geared towards drug education and prevention. The department also works with the school district to present Rude Awakening, a teen driver safety program that focuses on impaired driving.
As for open spaces, the township boasts an award-winning parks system. There are more than 5,000 acres of public parks and open spaces that cover about 15 percent of the township’s 41 square miles. The Recreation Department offers many programs year round to keep families safe and engaged in their community. The township is also home to a state-of-the-art library and award-winning arts center.
The Safewise ranking is the latest in a growing list of awards the community has received. Middletown has been voted one of the “Best Places to Live” by MONEY Magazine four times – most recently in 2014. Middletown was named one the safest places to live in the United States by Safewise in a 2014 report. The township was also named one of safest towns nationwide to retire in 2015 by badcredit.org, a financial awareness website.