Study: Ortega Safest Neighborhood; A Marketing Research Firm Examined Jacksonville Crime Statistics

Article excerpt

Byline: DANA TREEN

Jacksonville's safest neighborhood has been described as a small town wrapped by the city.

Maggie Wilson said that's the feeling she had growing up in Ortega, Jacksonville's least crime-ridden neighborhood, according to a recently released study.

Wilson, 31, who moved away to Memphis and New York, is back in Jacksonville and said she always felt safe in Ortega, where she went to school and attended church when she was younger.

"There is very much a sense of community," she said. "There really is a small-town type of sensibility to it."

The research done for WalletPop.com, an AOL personal finance site, shows the chances of being victimized in the Ortega neighborhoods straddling Roosevelt Boulevard as 1 in 167. The rating is based on the predicted number of violent and property crimes in the area per 1,000 people living there.

Crime numbers collected in 2005, 2006 and 2007 by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were used in the study that searched for the safest neighborhoods in the nation's 50 largest cities. Those neighborhoods with the worst records were not ranked in the recent study, though that may be a later project, said Allan Halprin, editor of WalletPop.

Ortega's success, said Assistant Chief Ron Lendvay of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, likely lies in the nature of the community, where neighborhood watch programs are strong and residents have deep roots.

Lendvay said a recent burglary in the area was stopped in progress because a resident noticed suspicious men going door to door to find vacant houses. Officers dispatched to the call found two men inside a house where electronics, a woman's purse and other items were stacked by the door. Two 22-year-old men were charged with burglary.

"That's the kind of thing that can be really effective as far as a partnership," said Lendvay, who is chief of the police zone that includes Ortega.

The Sheriff's Office was not involved in the study, but statistics from the agency over the past six months show handfuls of thefts and burglaries to homes and vehicles in the neighborhoods.

Though it is almost an island, hemmed in by the Ortega and St. …