As a retired realtor, your best method is DON'T BELIEVE CRIME MAPS ON TRULIA!! You need to know that real estate websites like Trulia, Zillow, etc. get their crime / school & other data from other websites - never the local authorities who will have accurate information.
Realtors are prohibited from giving opinions on crime, school quality, demographics, etc. because it violates Fair Housing laws. However, buyers NEED TO VERIFY everything that is important to you with local authorities.
Crime - call / visit or go to the website of the local police departments. The issue is NOT ALL CRIMES are reported. The police departments will tell you the truth regarding neighborhood safety.
Schools - visit the school and speak with the administrators, office staff and especially the parent teacher organizations. Leave your contact information and have a parent call you. Another solution is be there during morning drop off or afternoon pick up and talk to several parents. Have some business cards if they're in a rush but ask parents what they think of their child's school. Parents LOVE to talk.
Neighborhoods - drive / walk the neighborhoods. Walk into local stores and observe. Try to talk with a few customers. Visit at different times and on different days. Nothing like observations in person. Visit local churches, playgrounds, parks, libraries, etc. Even the local city government.
Finally - ring some doorbells of neighbors where the home is located. Neighbors love to talk. You may even get some inside information about the seller. Just don't reveal too much of yourself. If you will be their neighbor - listen more than you talking.