Martinsville, VA -While Martinsville has regularly had the highest unemployment in the state, the city has one statistic to be very proud of: Its crime rates is the lowest it's had in nearly three decades. The police department says they aren't the only ones who can take credit.
Martinsville Police officers regularly patrol the city. But as Police Chief Mike Rogers explains, his officers aren't the only ones doing the safeguarding.
"We have promoted a strong partnership with our citizens, I think that is our greatest asset in law enforcement," said Rogers.
It's all part of a neighborhood watch program that Rogers says makes a big difference in the overall crime numbers. Virginia Wallace serves as the captain in her neighborhood.
"I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid in my home and I think the watch group has really helped a whole lot," said Wallace.
In fact, in some streets it's a good thing to be considered a "nosey neighbor."
"We watch out for each other and if we see anything suspicious we call 911," said Wallace.
It's this type of partnership that Rogers' credits for Martinsville's crime rates hitting record lows. They've factored in the seven major types of crime, including murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults and more.
"It's definitely increased the level of safety and I would say the quality of life," said Rogers.
Rogers also attributes more undercover drug investigations and the commonwealth's attorney's work in convictions. But he says these numbers would not be where they are without 45 neighborhoods on the lookout.
"It makes you feel much safer. You can enjoy your home and not live in fear," said Wallace.
In Martinsville in 2012, robberies, larcenies and aggravated assaults hit the lowest level in 29 years. The police department says there is a similar decline in the state and national averages as well.