When deciding where to live, safety is a top priority. Our team at ValuePenguin has analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safety of cities and towns in Iowa. These 70 ranged in a crime score from 351 to an outlier of 7,628, with an average of 2,126. We found that the five safest places to emerge represented four different regions and two population ranges, from small to midsize.
More populous cities Cedar Rapids (60th) and Des Moines (67th) fell near the bottom of our rankings despite the fact that we adjusted our crime score metric for population, also taking into account both the amount of violent and property-related crimes per 100,000 people (more on our methodology below). For more insight, take a look at the report:
5 Safest Places in Iowa
These cities have an average crime score of 502, 76 percent lower than their typical peer in Iowa With some of the state’s lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.
1. Decorah, Ia.
Situated in the state’s northeast region, Decorah takes the top honor, having reported just one violent crime in all of 2013. A five-member police department here presides over a city whose citizens are, on average, 14 years younger than their fellow Iowans of other cities. This statistic is affected, at least in part, by the presence of Luther College, a liberal arts school within the city limits. There are plenty of families, too: Every July, Decorah celebrates its settlers’ Norwegian roots by hosting Nordic Fest.
2. Orange City, Ia.
The least populous city among our top five, Orange City recorded a crime score that is 77 percent lower than the state’s average. An hour’s drive from Sioux Falls, S.D., Orange City is situated in the state’s northwest quadrant and, like Decorah, is home to a university, Northwestern College. Every spring here, where “Color your life vibrant” is the motto, starts with a three-day Tulip Festival, honoring the city’s Dutch history.
3. Johnston, Ia.
The most populous city among our top five, Johnston is the home of Iowa Public Television as well as John Deere. It has maintained its safety record despite having 126% more residents now than it did in 2000. The people here were more than 20% more confident in their safety than the national average, according to a community survey conducted in 2013. There are more reasons to like life in the southern Iowa city: Citizens’ estimated home value in 2012, $243,056, was 94% higher than the state’s average, and their estimated household income for the same year, $93,622, was 84% higher.
4. Denison, Ia.
The southwesternmost city among the safest five, Denison should be known for more than being President Obama’s favorite motorcade stop for a snowcone. Like, say, a low crime rate. That’s what pushed the midsize city to fourth on our list. It may come as more of a surprise that Denison has its own municipal airport… in case the commander in chief wants to drop by for a cone using Air Force One.
5. Waukee, Ia.
Located 13 miles southeast of Johnston and just a 20-mile drive from Des Moines proper, Waukee registered the second-best property crime rate per 100,000 people among the top five, coming in at 806. It’s the “key to good living,” as the city’s motto goes. So, apparently, is technology: The Waukee Police Department uses a product called Nixle to alert its residents and, in return, asks them to text message tips via its “Crimestopper” program. Both tactics seem to be working.
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 5,000 and 8,000, midsize cities with populations between 8,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:
Full List of Places in Iowa
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Iowa” 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 5,000 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 90% and property crime at 10%. 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.
Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!
crime per 100K
crime per 100K
|37||West Des Moines||60,068||150||2,760||1,964|