By Laura Haefeli

RIPON (CBS13) — As crime rates skyrocket across California, the small San Joaquin County town of Ripon hasn’t had a homicide in nearly twenty years.

Established in 1874, the city is home to only about 16,000 people, but despite the small population, the town is making a big name for itself as one of the safest places to live in the region.

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The restaurant Brothers was bustling in the city. Owner Chris McConnell said it’s a vibe felt town-wide and his customers agree.

“It’s kind of a classic small-town environment,” customer Byron Yerzy said.

Yerzy frequents Brothers, but burgers aren’t the only thing to brag about there with the city’s astonishing feat of not having a homicide since 2003.

“It’s maybe unique for the valley, unique for the state,” said Ripon City Councilmember Daniel de Graaf.

The Public Policy Institute of California shows the statewide homicide rate increased by 30% in 2020. Although Ripon is small, their neighbors in Lathrop, a city of almost equal size, reported a homicide this past summer. So why is Ripon so safe?

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“It comes back to a community that cares for each other,” de Graaf said.

The councilmember said Ripon has been home to the same faces for years.

“A lot of families and people who’ve been here for generations,” he said.

But there’s another factor: while nearby towns are struggling to staff police departments, Ripon is not.

“It certainly helps there’s a focus and commitment to have those resources available,” de Graaf said.

Ripon Police Department’s 2021 report shows a an increase in some smaller crimes including simple assault, but total crime reports decreased significantly between 2019 and 2021.

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Ripon City Council said the town is growing, but even with the increased population, crime rates have remained steady over the last several years.