The M.O. with Mayor Leitzell

Downtown Dayton's skyline. Downtown Dayton's skyline.

Dispelling the myth that downtown Dayton is unsafe

By Mayor Gary Leitzell

Downtown Dayton's skyline.

You hear it everywhere you go in Montgomery County, particularly in the suburbs: “You can’t go into downtown Dayton. It’s unsafe! You’ll get mugged, robbed or worse!” The idea that downtown Dayton is unsafe has become accepted as fact by thousands of people throughout the region.

It’s also completely false.

There are so many fallacies, misinterpretations and outright lies about this city, I think I need to start a Dayton version of the popular urban legend website in order to set the record straight and restore the confidence of our misinformed citizens and suburbanite neighbors.

Fact: Downtown Dayton is one of the safest neighborhoods in the Miami Valley. Dayton is comprised of 65 neighborhoods, covering a total of 55 square miles. Statistically speaking, downtown is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Is there crime in the Central Business District? Naturally. All major cities have crime; it is just a natural byproduct of a sizeable population. Whenever people congregate in large groups, the likelihood that someone will victimize another also rises. But the nature of the crime in downtown — mostly larceny and theft — is to be expected. If you leave your GPS device or iPod in plain sight inside your car, you are providing the perfect opportunity for someone to steal it. That’s just common sense and these kinds of crimes go on everywhere — even in the suburbs (though you won’t read about it as much in the local paper). Occasionally, you’ll hear about a bar fight or a scuffle outside a downtown nightclub, but these same types of incidents are also happening in Kettering, Moraine, Centerville and Beavercreek.

The truth is, if you are going about your daily business in a lawful manner and don’t leave valuable items in your car, it is extremely unlikely that you will become a crime victim. If you come downtown intending to buy drugs or are one of those people who gets really obnoxious when intoxicated (you know who you are), then obviously the likelihood of you being assaulted or victimized in some way greatly increases. Year-end crime stats for the Central District show that most crime has decreased since 2009, the notable exceptions being vandalism and theft from motor vehicles, and those crimes are largely preventable.

Do you really want to make downtown safer? Come down here more often! If more people come downtown to participate in regular day-to-day activities, the majority of criminals will leave because there is a greater chance they will be caught in the act of committing a crime. Downtown is also not called the ‘Central Business District’ for nothing. If more people played and resided in downtown, more local entrepreneurs would open businesses and more out-of-town companies would choose to relocate to the region’s core.

Downtown Dayton is not only safe, but it’s one of the most rapidly growing areas in the region. New restaurants like Press, Delish, Smoothie Planet and the forthcoming Olive continue to ensure that downtown remains the best entertainment destination in the region. The ever-popular First Friday celebrations will soon be expanding to include entertainment at Riverscape. This summer, for the perfect weekend precursor, come down for First Friday, then go catch a Dragons game, then grab a nightcap at one of the many hotspots in the Oregon District.

While we’re still waiting for the spring thaw to come, there are still plenty of entertainment options to be found in our downtown. So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this, skip to the calendar pages, find a fun downtown event and come on down. You’ll have a great — and safe — time.

Reach Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell at (937) 333-3653 or

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