Welcome to Medford, statistically speaking the safest city of more than 75,000 residents in Oregon, and the 35th safest city in the nation overall.

Welcome to Medford, statistically speaking the safest city of more than 75,000 residents in Oregon, and the 35th safest city in the nation overall.

The rankings are based on FBI 2006 crime statistics published in the 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America."

Although the privately published rankings are available from Congressional Quarterly Inc. for $5 to $99.95 depending on the format, the statistics behind it are available for free at www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/index.html on the Web. That FBI site cautions against putting too much weight behind such fairly subjective rankings as those in the privately published report.

Still, pleased with the city's high ranking, Medford police Chief Randy Schoen spread the credit throughout the community.

"We have a caring community, where people get involved in reporting crime," Schoen said.

He cited citizen involvement such as the 30 police volunteers and neighborhood watch programs established throughout Medford.

Schoen said the department's policy of aggressively monitoring sex offender compliance laws and taking an active part in prosecuting juvenile offenders has helped keep crime under control.

"We believe getting involved with juveniles early will help stop young folks from committing more serious crimes later in their lives," Schoen said. "Also, it's always important to get parents involved early."

Behind Medford in the national rankings were Bend at 54th, the Portland-Vancouver area at 136th and the Eugene-Springfield area at 145th.

The Detroit-Dearborn area came in as the most dangerous city in America. Mission Viejo, Calif., ranked as the safest city.

The FBI ranked the cities based on reported violent crimes such as robbery, assault, rape and murder.

Overall crime in Medford decreased by 9 percent between 2005 and 2006, according to the department's most recent statistics. Violent crime and other serious categories saw the steepest decline within the past year at 15 percent.

So far this year there have been no reported murders in Medford. In June, a 42-year-old transient was charged with first-degree manslaughter for allegedly beating and strangling another man in a field between Interstate 5 and Bear Creek south of 12th Street.

"It's a big deal if there's a murder in Medford," Schoen said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.