BERRYVILLE — Despite a slight drop in its ranking, Berryville remains one of the safest localities in Virginia.
Berryville is ninth on the 2018 list of the 20 Safest Cities in Virginia compiled by SafeWise, an online consumer safety resource. The list shows that the town, with 4,323 residents, had 0.93 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2016 — the latest year for which Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics were available — and 10.18 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Nationwide in 2016, there were 3.863 violent crimes and 24.5 property crimes per 1,000 people, FBI statistics show.
Berryville’s ranking dropped from eighth in 2017, when it had zero violent crimes.
In preparing its yearly reports, SafeWise looks at FBI crime statistics versus population data. Cities and towns that do not submit complete crime reports to the FBI are excluded from the rankings, according to a news release.
Berryville Police Chief Neal White said he attributes the town’s drop in ranking to the opioid abuse epidemic. People who are high on opioids may feel more emboldened to commit crimes to help sustain their addictions, White said.
White said Berryville police periodically respond to incidents in which someone has overdosed on opioids. But he said he would not describe the opioid problem in the town as being any worse than it is in other places.
His impression is that opioid problems locally have “kind of reached a plateau” and may be decreasing, he said.
White has worked for the Berryville Police Department for 20 years and has been its chief for 12. He said the town has been in the top 10 localities on SafeWise’s annual list of the 20 Safest Cities in Virginia for at least five years.
“I feel very good about that,” he said.
Purcellville, a town of about 9,500 people in Loudoun County just east of the Clarke County line, ranks fourth safest on the list.
Dumfries, a town of almost 5,300 people in Prince William County, is ranked the safest locality in Virginia for 2018.
For the complete list, visit https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-virginia/.