ROANOKE, Va. – The new 2019 Roanoke City Citizen Survey reveals that residents feel safer in some parts of town versus others.
About 500 people answered the survey. Of the respondents, 88 percent said they feel safe in their neighborhood. That's a 3 percent drop since 2015, which is within the margin of error.
Residents who didn't feel safe said it was because of illegal drugs, loitering and crime.
Downtown, 87 percent said they feel safe -- a 9 percent increase since 2015.
"I've never felt unsafe downtown because there's always a lot of activity going on and you're not by yourself," said Laura Duckworth, the co-owner of Gift Niche.
For those who felt unsafe downtown, they said it was due to illegal drug activity, the number of people/crowds and homelessness.
"Nobody wants to walk by somebody who's just sitting, loitering and looking strange, so that is a concern," said Pauline Wood, the owner of Shades of Color.
City officials released a statement to WSLS about the survery saying in part, "The fact that 88% of the survey respondents feel safe in their neighborhoods and 87% feel safe downtown speaks to the efforts of our Police Department to ensure that our citizens are safe....A 3% change in that rating is within the margin of error for a survey and not a statistically significant change."
City officials added that one goal of the survey is to learn what people aren't happy with, so they can improve.
"Over the years, [the city] has grown so much that now they've brought security down here, the officers on their bikes, they're driving around all the time, so, it's a lot safer than what it used to be," Wood said.
"The police... ride their bikes around and they're driving around," said Mary Beth Boyes, a city resident. "I think just their presence is helpful. It makes people feel safe."