Bridgton one of top 20 safest places to live in Maine

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton has the third lowest crime rate in Cumberland County, and the highest clearance rate of any of the county’s 28 towns and cities.

Police Chief Kevin Schofield told Bridgton Selectmen Tuesday that those statistics make Bridgton one of the 20 safest places to live in Maine, according to a “Safest Cities in Maine” list kept by SafeWise, a community-focused security organization with over 75 years experience in the home security industry.

SafeWise tracks Uniform Crime Reporting data, analyzing rates for the most violent crimes, including assault, forcible rape, murder and robbery — as well as property crimes such as arson, burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft.

For every 1,000 residents, SafeWise calculated Bridgton’s violent crime rate at 14.73%, the county’s third lowest, and its clearance rate at 44%, the highest, said Schofield.

The Chief also won approval for his request to once again apply for a $6,000 Bureau of Highway Safety Grant. The funds will pay for overtime and benefits to add extra patrols to catch drunk drivers, as part of the state’s Drive Sober Maine campaign.

Schofield said the grant guidelines allow departments to use roadblocks as one of their strategies, but he doesn’t think roadblocks are as effective as simply providing extra patrols. Providing Bridgton receives the grant, the extra patrols will begin on April 1 and continue until Sept. 15.

In a separate police-related matter, Creamery Street resident Vanessa Jones repeated an earlier request for the town to take action to reduce speeding on her intown residential street, which serves as a shortcut for many local residents travelling north from Highland Road to Route 302.

Jones argued that the town could apply to the state to have the current 25 mile-per-hour speed limit reduced, but Selectman Chairman Bernie King said doing so would require the town to undertake a town-wide survey of all downtown residential streets with the same speed limit.

King agreed with Jones’ safety concerns for children living on the street, because drivers tend to drive faster on Creamery Street than other side streets. But, he said the board has already taken the position that the best course is to leave it up to the police department to enforce the speed limit on Creamery Street.

“So I should just crawl under a rock and let my kids get run over?” Jones countered.

King told Jones she was “being a little melodramatic,” adding, “We’ve reviewed it twice and decided not to do anything.”

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