ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Columbia was named the safest city in Maryland by WalletHub in its recent “Safest Cities in America” report. WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across three criteria: home & community safety, natural-disaster risk, and financial safety.
We continue to prioritize public safety and keeping our community safe. Through comprehensive outreach and investments in public safety, as well as transparency and partnerships, we can continue to ensure Howard County is a safe place for all. This accolade is a testament to the work put forth day in and day out by our police officers, firefighters and paramedics, social workers, community advocates, public officials, and engaged residents. I thank everyone who also prioritizes our neighbors feeling safe to make sure all who live, work and play here are afforded the best quality of life.
Since 2018, Ball has made historic investments public safety. In his Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Operational Budget, he included a six percent increase in the Howard County Police Department’s overall budget from last year, including a $8.6 million increase in address support staff and service needs. His budget also included a nearly six percent increase for the County’s Department of Fire and Rescue Services, which featured $2.4 million for 26 new firefighter positions. Additionally, even as the county’s population continues to grow, the county’s crime rate continues to be far below the statewide average.
Thanks to historic funding from County Executive Ball--the largest increase for the HCPD in a decade--our community is benefitting from additional officers on the road, increasing safety for residents and visitors. The police department is currently focused on a major recruitment effort to ensure we are filling these new positions with top-quality, diverse candidates who will serve our community with the highest levels of integrity.
In addition, Ball has also made unprecedented investments in fire and rescue personnel, stations, and equipment, driving down response times and meeting best-in-class standards. He has provided resources to add 83 positions over the past four years, allowing the department to meet national standards of four fire personnel on each piece of rescue equipment. His record investments in Fire facilities have led to the opening of the new Waterloo Fire station and planning for a new station in North Columbia.
“Being named the safest city in Maryland is a collaborative commitment to maintaining a safe environment and high quality of life in Howard County,” said Fire Chief Louis Winston. “Public safety as a continued priority and the dedication of our firefighters to provide diversified fire, rescue, EMS and community outreach programs that promote life safety keep our community safe.”
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. We're grateful to see Columbia once again recognized in this way, in no small part to the hard work and dedication of local law enforcement, first responders and countless others,” said Dennis Mattey, Columbia Association (CA) Interim President/CEO. “CA is committed to working with our partners to continue creating spaces and places where people of all backgrounds and experiences don't only feel safe, but also a sense of belonging.”