Lake Norman & Mooresville

Huntersville ranks No. 8 in N.C. for safety, real estate website says

Huntersville has been named one of the top 10 safest places in the state by a national real estate group, a ranking that police believe they can improve even more.

Huntersville tied with Archdale for eighth place on the top 10 safest places in North Carolina list recently posted by Movoto, an online real estate brokerage that conducts city-based research.

For its list of top 10 and top 50 safest places in the state, Movoto considered North Carolina municipalities with populations of more than 10,000. Of the 68 towns, villages and cities that met those population requirements, Movoto used the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report to help determine safety scores.

Crimes were divided into four categories – violent crimes, property crimes, etc. – with varying scoring weights, and Movoto “calculated the crime rates for each locale per 100,000 people in order to fairly compare places with large and small populations.”

By that methodology, Cornelius ranked 24th on the list of the state’s top 50 safest places, and Mooresville ranked 27th.

Davidson did not appear on the list, though Movoto noted that not every city, town or village in the state reports its crime data to the FBI, and some places may have populations too small to be considered.

Gastonia, Mount Holly and Belmont, Stallings, Mint Hill and Matthews and Salisbury also appear on the list.

Huntersville Police Chief Cleveland Spruill credits the town’s ranking to the officers who serve the local department; a number of policing strategies and the community police concept that’s been in place for years, he said.

“It has to be a community effort ... I’m proud of having reached that achievement, but I’m not satisfied,” Spruill said, adding that there’s always room for improvement.

“I want to make it even better ... There’s no reason we can’t be No. 1.”

Spruill began heading Huntersville’s police force in May after moving from Alexandria, Va., where he had served for more than 26 years. Huntersville’s former chief, Philip Potter, retired in August 2013, and assistant town manager Gerry Vincent acted as the interim director of public safety until Spruill was hired.

After more than 16 years in a command positions, Spruill said he’s a firm believer in the strategic response system model, which uses crime data analysis and computer mapping to dispatch officers more effectively. The system helped Alexandria achieve some of its lowest crime rates in more than 40 years, he said.

While other departments may write off common crimes such as larceny from automobiles as a nationally problematic trend, he said, Huntersville police have been proactive in working to keep those local numbers down, he said.

“We go out and do education on how to harden the target,” Spruill said, reminding residents not to leave valuables in plain view in their vehicles and to always lock their doors.

The same has been true in cases of theft of copper wire and pipe from construction sites, Spruill said, noting police are working with local contractors and their companies to place strategic patrols. By knowing when these types of materials, or appliances, are installed at a site, Spruill said, Huntersville police keep a closer eye when needed.

While the ranking data is a nice accolade for officials, it should mean more to citizens, Spruill said. By having reduced crime rates and a reduced fear of crime, Spruill said, residents’ quality of life improves.

“It’s not something pulled out of thin air, the data is there,” Spruill said.

Most importantly, Spruill said, is for residents to continue the community policing efforts and report any suspicious activity, whether it’s criminal or not.

“We’d rather be called and not needed, than be needed and not called.”