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Maryland communities ranked nation's 5th most secure

Thursday - 12/22/2011, 5:06am  ET

WASHINGTON -- A new ranking lists the Frederick-Gaithersburg-Bethesda area as one of the most secure metropolitan places to live nationwide.

In its eighth annual ranking of areas with more than 500,000 residents, Farmer's Insurance Group lists the heavily-populated Maryland area as the fifth most secure place to live.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement was pleased with the ranking and gives a lot of the credit to the police department.

"Our police department has been proactive," he says. "It's a community policing concept, they try to get out and into the community, and I think that's what you're seeing in this recognition."

Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine agrees.

"The men and women of the Frederick Police Department are doing an outstanding job. And, frankly, we do have a very organized, comprehensive and cohesive crime-fighting plan and we believe it's working," Dine says.

Dine gives a lot of credit to a program the police department uses called NCR LINKS, which links up the databases of a number of police departments in the region.

No. 1 on the most secure list was Pittsburgh, which moved up 10 slots from the year before. Next came Rochester, N.Y., El Paso, Texas and Syracuse, N.Y.

To compile the rankings, experts at bestplaces.net looked at crime statistics, extreme weather, natural disaster risk, housing depreciation, foreclosures and job loss numbers, to name a few. In total, they studied 379 municipalities.

McClement says he thinks one other factor may have contributed to the recognition.

"Our city has a reputation of being a very friendly city. It's probably one of the biggest compliments we get," he says.

WTOP's David Burd contributed to this report. Follow David and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)