Police Chief Cumming has one piece of advice for residents to keep the city even safer. Lock up.
Longboat Key is ranked as the fourth-safest city in Florida, according to data compiled by website Security Baron. Marco Island topped the list. Weston and Sanibel are also ranked ahead of Longboat Key, while Bay Harbor Islands rounds out the top five.
Security Baron used the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data from 2016 and 2017 to determine the list. The website factors in a variety of violent crimes and property crimes such as murder, assault, rape and robbery. It also uses median income as a factor. Each city must have a population of at least 5,000 to be included.
Police Chief Pete Cumming welcomes the high ranking but doesn’t put too much stock in it.
“The label is fun to put out there, but the actual (crime rates) are the thing that we live by,” Cumming said.
Longboat Key, with a population of about 7,400, holds a violent crime rate of .27 per 1,000 people and a property crime rate of 7.97 per 1,000. These numbers help Longboat Key finish near the top of most lists of the safest cities in the state. A quick online search of various websites shows the city ranked as high as first and rarely outside the top five or six in recent years.
For residents and visitors alike, these rankings are a reminder of the relative security they enjoy on the island. In fact, people on Longboat Key often feel too secure.
“We try to convince them to lock your cars and lock your doors,” Cumming said. “Just do it because it’s a good idea.”
Cumming said the police department contributes to the city’s safety through the practice of hiring experienced, even-keeled officers and pairing them with the proper technology and patrol techniques, such as driving slowly with the windows down.
But that’s only half of the equation.
The other half, communication, stems from residents just as much as officers. The community lets the police know what it needs, and the police do the same for the community.
“We’re a team. Period,” Cumming said.
He also advised residents to call the authorities as soon as they see something amiss. It’s more difficult for the police to look into a situation if it isn’t brought to attention until a week later.