FAQ on How We Rank the Top 100 Safest Cities

What this research list reveals. Our research reveals the 100 safest cities in America with 25,000 or more people, based on the total number of crimes per 1,000 residents. Crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, homicide, forcible rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. Data used for this research are 1) the number of crimes reported to the FBI to have occurred in each city, and 2) the population of each city.

Why NeighborhoodScout’s analysis is more comprehensive than others. Thousands of cities nationwide - both large and small - have multiple agencies with law enforcement responsibility. These include municipal police, county sheriff, transit police, campus police, public school police, park and port police, tribal police, and more. Since many cities are served by more than one law enforcement agency, our exclusive analysis includes crimes reported by all agencies. We accomplish this by collecting raw crime data from all 17,000 law enforcement agencies in America. Then we use a relational database built from the ground up to assign reported crimes from each agency to the city where it has law enforcement responsibility. This method provides an accurate representation of the complete number and types of crimes that truly occur within any city or town, not just crimes reported by a single municipal agency. We do this same process for every city in the United States.

Once we have this complete and accurate count of crimes for every city in the nation, our analysis takes the total crimes for each city with 25,000 or more people, and divides them by the population of the city, divided by 1,000. This establishes a total crime rate per 1,000 population that is used to compare every city.

Where we get our data and its time frame.

City population data we use are the latest available directly from the US Bureau of the Census at the time of this analysis (2012).

Crime data we use are the most recent data the FBI classifies as 'Final, non-preliminary.'  It is the most up-to-date and fully vetted data with complete national coverage that is available.  We insist on using Final, Non-Preliminary data for our analyses and analytics, rather than basing our research on preliminary data that may need to be updated or have errors in it.  For this research report, it is the 2012 year total data, released in Final, Non-Preliminary form in November, 2013.  At the time of this report, the 2013 year total crime data is not complete.  The FBI is still working through data issues and reporting issues before that data can be considered Final, and Non-Preliminary.  We use the latest Final, Non-Preliminary data for our analysis to assure the best quality information and to treat every city equally.  The 2013 data will be considered Final, Non-Preliminary sometime in the fall of 2014. When it is, we will re-run our analytics and our analysis, and produce a new updated ranking list.  Until then, what we are using is the most recent Final Data with complete national coverage as per the FBI.

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Q. How do I see the raw crime data for the cities on this list?
+ Q. How can a large city be safer than a small city?
+ Q. How can a city be on your list that I believe to be a dangerous city?
+ Q. I don’t see a city on this list that I think should make the list. Why is that?
+ Q. When I click through to see the crime details for a city, NeighborhoodScout’s overall Crime Rating doesn’t show the city as the safest. Why is that?
+ Q. What are the definitions for each type of crime?
+ Q. I see crime data on a city’s website or the FBI’s website that is different than the data here. Why is that?
+ Q. Can I get a Crime Report specific to an address, rather than city-wide averages?
+ Q. I like what I see. Can I get your crime data via an API for Corporate use?

Q. How do I see the raw crime data for the cities on this list?

A. Click on any city name in the list.

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Q. How can a large city be safer than a small city?

A. Many larger cities have fewer crimes than smaller cities. It all depends on the type of city, the city’s economic condition, etc. Consider the example of Greenwich, Connecticut (population 61,776) and East Saint Louis, Illinois (population 27,027). Greenwich has more than twice the population of East Saint Louis, but Greenwich had just 451 total crimes in 2012. In contrast, East Saint Louis had 3,800 crimes in 2012. While having only about 40% of the number of residents that Greenwich has, East Saint Louis is far more dangerous.

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Q. How can a city be on your list that I believe to be a dangerous city?

A. Some cities have reputations for being dangerous that are not supported by crime statistics. Click on any city in the list to see a complete breakdown of crime counts and rates for that city.

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Q. I don’t see a city on this list that I think should make the list. Why is that?

A. The city you think should be on this list may have a population under 25,000, and thus not be included in this research. Further, some places people think are cities are actually neighborhoods within a city. For example, Hollywood is not a city, but rather a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Conversely, West Hollywood is a city. This research report is for cities, not for neighborhoods.

You can see the crime rate for any city not on the list by typing the city name into the Reports Tab at the top of any page on the site. Once you are on the city page, click on its crime tab to see its crime data, which you can compare to any city that made the list.

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Q. When I click through to see the crime details for a city, NeighborhoodScout’s overall Crime Rating doesn’t show the city as the safest. Why is that?

A. This research is for cities of 25,000 or more people. There are some very small communities in America that may have lower crime rates and thus NeighborhoodScout’s Crime Index rating for the safest city on this list may not equal 100 (safest of all cities in America of all sizes).

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Q. What are the definitions for each type of crime?

A. BURGLARY The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft.

LARCENY-THEFT The unlawful taking of property from the possession of another (excluding motor vehicles).

VEHICLE THEFT The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle (excluding boats and construction equipment).

ARMED ROBBERY The taking or attempting to take anything of value from a person(s) by force or threat of violence.

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT An attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.

FORCIBLE RAPE The carnal knowledge of a person forcibly and against their will. Statutory offenses are excluded.

HOMICIDE The willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.

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Q. I see crime data on a city’s website or the FBI’s website that is different than the data here. Why is that?

A. The data used here is the most recent Final, non-preliminary data available at the time of the research. Sometimes a city law enforcement agency will post preliminary data to its website which would not match our data. Other times cities only show year-to-date crimes, which by their nature, are only for a partial year. For example, only January - September. Also, our data are for the city overall, not just a single law enforcement agency in the city. FBI reporting is agency-focused and only shows crimes by agency. Similarly, individual city agencies will almost always show only the crimes from their single agency, not all agencies that have law enforcement responsibility in the city. Our analysis includes all crimes reported by every agency in a city, and is therefore comprehensive.

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Q. Can I get a Crime Report specific to an address, rather than city-wide averages?

A. Yes. Crime varies far more between neighborhoods within a city, than between most cities. Our data are also built to provide address-specific crime risk information, using 10 meter resolution crime data. You can get an instant, objective, and quantitative Crime and Security Assessment Report for any address by going here: www.SecurityGauge.com

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Q. I like what I see. Can I get your crime data via an API for Corporate use?

A. Yes. Please go to www.LocationInc.com to see our data products and to contact us to discuss your needs.

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