All Americans have an interest in living in safe communities, and the crime rate in a locale is an important determinant in everything from rent prices to individual decisions to live in and move to a community. Additionally, knowing which neighborhoods are safe is an important variable for small business owners when deciding where to start and expand a business. AdvisorSmith studied crime data from a federal database to determine the safest cities in the United States by city size.
In this study, we used the most recently available data from the FBI, released in September 2019, which includes crimes committed during calendar year 2018. Crimes considered in this report include violent crimes such as robbery, assault, rape, and murder, as well as property crimes including burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. We created a proprietary crime score, which weights different types of crimes based upon the severity of the crime, with violent crimes weighted more highly.
Cities were divided into categories based,on their population. We excluded towns with populations under 10,000. Cities with populations of less than 100,000 were labeled as small cities, while cities with populations of 100,000 to 300,000 were considered midsize cities. Any cities with populations over 300,000 were labeled large cities. This study included 3,107 small cities, 214 midsize cities, and 62 large cities, for a total of 3,383 cities.
This study on the safest cities in the United States was conducted based upon data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Data Set from Return A. This data set contains crime reports from cities, counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and other jurisdictions around the country. Specifically, monthly crime data for violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault, and property crimes such as burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft are provided for each jurisdiction in the data set.
Our study focused on the crime rate in cities around the country. We used a definition of city as legally incorporated municipalities. This definition differs somewhat from how many people think about cities such as contiguous metropolitan areas. However, since crime tends to be a local or hyper-local issue, providing data at a municipal level provides important granularity to understand the distribution of crime.
Cities were divided into one of three groups based on population, with small cities having populations between 10,000 to 99,999 residents, midsize cities from 100,000 to 300,000 residents, and large cities having more than 300,000 residents. Towns with populations below 10,000 were excluded from this study.
Data from the data set was provided on a monthly basis. In order to ensure accuracy of results, we excluded cities where only six months or less of data was available. For cities which provided at least six months of data but less than 12 months of data, we scaled up the months reported to a proportional amount of crime for the entire year.
Our study tabulated the violent and property crimes per 1,000 residents per year for publication. We also created a proprietary crime score that was based upon applying a multiplier to more serious forms of crime such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. These crimes were added to simple assault and property crimes to form a crime score for each city, with a lower score indicating that a city experiences less crime. We then ranked the cities based upon their crime scores to determine the safest cities in the United States.
1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting, Return A, 2018