When deciding where to live, safety is a top priority. We analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safety of cities in Oregon. These 77 ranged in a crime score from 380 to 4,284, with an average of 1,423. Sure, most of Oregon’s cities and towns lie west of the state’s expansive national forests, but it’s worth noting that each of the five safest places were within a reasonable drive to the coastline.
Salem, the state capital, fell near the bottom of our rankings with a crime score of 2,913 but still slotted above other highly populated cities like Portland and Eugene. This was true despite the fact that we adjusted our crime score metric for population size. The score also took into account both the amount of violent and property-related crimes per 100,000 people (more on our methodology below).
These cities have an average crime score of 357, 75% lower than their typical peer in Oregon. With some of the state’s lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.
1. Brookings, OR
A beach town about six miles north of the Oregon-California border, Brookings reported two violent crimes to the FBI for 2013. Its crime score of 380 is unparalleled in the state, and location would seem to be helping. The place is best described by doing your own Google image search, but here’s an attempt anyway: Brookings enjoys a seven-mile Pacific Ocean shoreline, plus access to two rivers ripe for fishing. Additionally, the older, retired residents are balanced by the student population at Southwestern Oregon Community College.
2. Hubbard, OR
The city with the lowest population on our list, Hubbard has a crime score of 482, 66 percent lower than that of a given Oregon city. With a police department staff comprising a chief and six officers, it reported four violent crimes and 28 property-related crimes; the latter figure was an all-state best. Hubbard itself, which is situated as an unofficial halfway point between the more sizable Salem and Portland, values its lesser-known history.
3. West Linn, OR
About 15 miles south of Portland, West Linn has the highest population of any city on our list but still managed to crack the top three. Its residents are well above the state’s averages in median household income ($87,233 vs $49,161) and median home value ($349,781 vs $223,900), according to 2012 data. This is reflected in the amount of property crime that West Linn reported two years ago, with 279 infractions. Money Magazine, in its annual rankings, has placed the city among the country’s best places to live.
4. Philomath, OR
About six miles from Corvallis, the home of Oregon State University, Philomath recorded just two violent crimes for all of 2013. The city borrowed its name from the Greek phrase meaning “love of learning,” also the name of its original Philomath College, which is now the home of the Benton County Historical Museum. Beyond education, Philomath takes pride in its proximity to the fine wineries in its county and throughout the Willamette Valley.
5. Coquille, OR
With not a single violent crime to report in the FBI’s latest findings, Coquille earned its spot in the top five despite its low population. The small town traces its roots to the 1890s, when the Coquille River began serving as a commercial waterway for its impressive steamboats. Nowadays, the locals are just a half-hour’s drive from the coastline, where a tourist town called Bandon brings visitors from Highway 101.
Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 3,000 and 9,000, midsize cities with populations between 9,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Oregon” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.
To rank these places, we collected data from the 2013 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 3,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.
We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.
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