Charleston ranked as one of safest cities in state

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Research done by companies such as and The SafeWise Report have listed Charleston as one of the safest cities to live in Illinois. listed Charleston as the second safest city to live in with a population of 15,000 to 30,000 people, and sixteenth in a study of 298 people overall.

Safe Wise analyzed the number of violent and property crimes given to them by an FBI crime report and calculated the chance of these crimes happening out of 1,000. Value Penguin also used the FBI crime report. University Police Chief Adam Due said this safety could be attributed to the fact that Charleston in located in a rural area.

“We don’t live by a big city, we’re not in a big city,” he said. “In a rural area, you’re typically going to expect less crime.”

He also attributed the low crime rate to having attentive law enforcement.

“Charleston, Eastern, Coles County are all very proactive with their law enforcement,” Due said.

He said it is not so much a case of the law enforcement doing anything different than other cities, but the number of law enforcement officers there are.

“When you get a small area, there’s much law enforcement, with different type of enforcement,” Due said.

The amount of crime that increases and decreases in an area depends on the type of crime being committed.

“It may increase in some areas, or it may decrease in other areas,” Due said.

In Charleston, thefts and drug related crimes are on the police’s radar.

“Thefts go up and down,” Due said. “There’s been a continuing rise in drug use.”

Some problems exist on Eastern’s campus as well.

“I think open alcohol is higher,” Due said. “There’s more people, more underage people, so there’s going to be a lot of alcohol violations.”

Charleston’s safety affects prospective and current students alike.

Christ Dearth, director of admissions, said the safety of a town is a major concern for parents when looking for a school to send their kids to.

“If they’re searching from a longer distance, they’re going to want to make sure the community or school is safe and secure,” Dearth said.

The admissions office mentioned the safety factor when trying to recruit students.

“We played it up a lot in recruitment material,” Dearth said. “They get that it is a safe community.”

Because of Charleston’s rating, parents and prospective students assume Eastern to be safe as well.

“It goes hand in hand,” Dearth said.

Students tend to care more about what a town has to offer rather than its safety, though.

“Students obviously want to be in a safe community, but they’re looking for action, restaurants, shopping, “Dearth said.

Parents care about these factors as well.

“They care about the different opportunities they’ll get, the shops, restaurants, trails,” Dearth said. “Safety is more or less a bigger concern for parents.”

Dearth said having the university in Charleston could be seen as a reason why it is so safe.

“There’s a more educated population,” he said. “The city police and campus police work together to make sure students are safe, keeping an eye on everything. The town and campus work well together in keeping things under control.”

Even with all these precautions, some students do not feel completely safe.

Kendall Smith, a junior health studies major, said he would not feel safe going to certain parts of Charleston later at night.

“I wouldn’t go downtown, because of the atmosphere,” Smith said.

He recounted an incidence where his friends felt unsafe.

“Racial slurs have been happening to them,” he said.

Courtney Gast, a senior kinesiology major, lives 25 miles away and commutes to campus, but comes to Charleston often for school.

She said she feels the city is safest when school is not in session.

“When school is in session, it’s a lot more crowded,” Gast said.

She also said she felt safer being by herself in the daytime.

“One time I came through here late at night, and there was some guy walking in the street with a knife,” Gast said.

Other students agreed with the study.

Clara Matthessen, a junior history major, said she would say Charleston is very safe.

“I wouldn’t mind walking by myself,” she said. “Everyone here is really chill. I’ve had no issues in the community.”

Ashley Shamhart, freshman music major, said she had mace on her key chain, but she has not had to use it.

Matthessen said she did not have a safety whistle or anything of that nature.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]