Forbes names Mesa one of the safest cities in the US

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MESA, Ariz. -- Forbes Magazine has named Mesa one of the safest cities in America.

Forbes looked at cities with populations of more than 250,000 people, examined the number of traffic fatalities and violent crimes according to FBI statistics from 2010.

Mesa was named seventh safest city in the nation.

Plano, Texas was ranked the most safe, followed by Henderson, Nev. and Honolulu, Hawaii. Santa Ana, Calif. and Lincoln, Neb. round out the top five.

"I think it definitely goes against the stereotype," said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. "Other people's perceptions are this is the Wild West and there's bad things happening here and the fact is there's a lot of good things happening here in Arizona, in the Phoenix area and certainly in Mesa."

Residents in Mesa mostly agree.

"I've had my house broken into before but all in all, I think Mesa is a great city; the downtown area is nice. said business owner Bill Wall. "So, I wasn't surprised to hear that,"

Ryan Rix wasn't so sure.

"I don't want to say I don't feel safe but I don't really feel comfortable walking outside at night," he explained.

And there have been a number of violent crimes in the last few months.

On Oct. 10, Jeremy Pineda, 1, was killed by a stray bullet at his apartment near Main Street and Horne. Police believe his family may have been dealing drugs.

Later that month Robert Olmedo, 26, was stabbed to death at a barbecue near Broadway Road and Stapley Drive. Two suspects were arrested for the crime.

In November, Cynthia Pesek, 61, was allegedly killed by her nephew, William Null, 41. The crime happened near Recker and McKellips roads. A wooden tree stake covered with blood was found nearby.

Still, Mesa police officials say crime is going down.

"Right now we're looking at a 3- to 5-percent reduction again this year in our overall violent crimes from last year, year to date, which is encouraging but there's still room for improvement," said Sgt. Ed Wessing.

Countywide the FBI reports a drop in violent crime.