2016 Safest Places in Kentucky

by Susan Gulliford

The Bluegrass State conjures up images of horse farms and coal mines. However, three of its five safest places are middle-class suburbs of a major city (Cincinnati, Ohio). That is the major takeaway from the ValuePenguin team’s analysis of the FBI Crime Report for Kentucky.

These 75 cities with populations of at least 5,000 have crime scores that range from 193 to 3,819. The average crime score for the state of Kentucky is 1,573. You can review the full report here.

5 Safest Places in Kentucky

These cities have an average final crime score of 350, which is 78% lower than their typical peer in the state. These five are the safest places in Kentucky.

1. Flatwoods

Flatwoods is a small city of approximately 7,400 in the eastern part of the state. The police department works to keep crime low by offering a Vacation Check for residents who are out of town and crime prevention tips. Flatwoods has the lowest rate of violent crime and the lowest rate of property crime for any city in Kentucky. It is a community with a median household income slightly below the state’s median ($41,344 for Flatwoods versus $43,342 for Kentucky) and the median home values are 30% lower than the state’s.

2. Villa Hills

This Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb of approximately 7,400 comes in at number two. The police department uses online crime mapping to convey important information to residents. There is not much crime to report; this city has the third-lowest rate of property crime and the fifth-lowest rate of property crime. Villa Hills has a median household income 96% higher than the median for Kentucky, and it has a much higher rate of owner-occupied homes (88% for Villa Hills versus 68% for Kentucky).

3. Fort Thomas

This city is a mere 14-minute drive from Cincinnati. Fort Thomas has the fifth-lowest rate of violent crime and second-lowest rate of property crime. To promote good community relations, the Fort Thomas police department along with other law enforcement agencies in northern Kentucky offers a Citizen’s Police Academy to educate people policing topics. The median household income for Fort Thomas is 44% higher than the state’s median, and a low percentage of city’s residents live in poverty.

4. Independence

With over 26,000 residents, Independence is the largest city in the top five. It is a 27-minute drive from Cincinnati. The police department offers resources such as self-defense training and vacation home checks to keep crime low. In addition to a low rate of violent crime, the city has the fourth-lowest rate of property crime. The median household income for Independence is 52% higher than the state’s median.

5. Lawrenceburg

Lawrenceburg is a small city of just under 11,000 that is 41 minutes from Lexington, Ky. It has the third-lowest rate of property crime of any city in this study. Lawrenceburg has a full service police department and a school resource officer for the public schools. It is a middle-income community with a median income approximately $7,300 higher than the state’s median.

Population Breakdown

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 10,000, midsize cities with populations between 10,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:

Full List of Places in Kentucky

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Kentucky” 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.

RankCityCrime Score
1Flatwoods 193
2Villa Hills 323
3Fort Thomas 366
4Independence 427
5Lawrenceburg 440
6Mount Washington 457
7Highland Heights 482
8Taylor Mill 488
9Wilmore 538
10Central City 615
11Vine Grove 641
12Fort Mitchell 662
13Edgewood 680
14Williamsburg 729
15Lakeside Park-Crestview Hills 736
16La Grange 806
17Alexandria 926
18Morehead 947
19Lebanon 949
20Hillview 953
21Madisonville 1,020
22Berea 1,037
23Monticello 1,040
24Cold Spring 1,053
25Shelbyville 1,063
26Elsmere 1,114
27Erlanger 1,175
28Paris 1,247
29Fort Wright 1,269
30Jeffersontown 1,270
31Mayfield 1,333
32Bardstown 1,360
33Radcliff 1,390
34Shepherdsville 1,409
35Princeton 1,413
36Danville 1,430
37Russellville 1,435
38Harrodsburg 1,451
39Bellevue 1,511
40Murray 1,536
41Glasgow 1,579
42London 1,590
43Corbin 1,667
44Georgetown 1,702
45Leitchfield 1,707
46Campbellsville 1,712
47Franklin 1,753
48Cynthiana 1,765
49Maysville 1,807
50Elizabethtown 1,829
51Oak Grove 1,838
52Henderson 1,919
53St. Matthews 1,951
54Hopkinsville 1,973
55Nicholasville 1,975
56Dayton 2,047
57Mount Sterling 2,131
58Versailles 2,154
59Owensboro 2,227
60Frankfort 2,258
61Richmond 2,295
62Winchester 2,326
63Shively 2,399
64Florence 2,449
65Ashland 2,595
66Hazard 2,641
67Somerset 2,743
68Covington 2,817
69Lexington 2,871
70Bowling Green 2,887
71Middlesboro 2,898
72Paducah 2,950
73Pikeville 3,390
74Newport 3,394
75Louisville Metro 3,819

Year-over-year Change

People look for a consistently safe place to live and work. Two cities, Flatwoods and Villa Hills, made the top five for both 2015 and 2016. This year’s new entrants to the top five have a history of being safe communities. Fort Thomas and Lawrenceburg were the two safest cities mid-size cities for both years, and Independence was the safest large city for 2015 and 2016.

There was also change at the bottom of the rankings from 2015 to 2016. Only two cities, Louisville Metro and Newport, were in the bottom five for both years. In fact, Louisville Metro had the highest crime score when adjusted for population in 2015 and 2016.

There was an important year-over-year change regarding the size of the safest places. In 2015, every city in the top five was from the small (under 10,000 population category). The 2016 top five contained two small cities, two mid-size cities, and one city from the large category.

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 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 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.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

RankCityPopulationViolent Crime per 100KProperty Crime per 100KCrime Score
17Alexandria 8,768 68 2,076 926
65Ashland 21,321 239 5,037 2,595
32Bardstown 13,005 146 2,722 1,360
39Bellevue 5,887 204 3,193 1,511
22Berea 14,571 75 2,189 1,037
70Bowling Green 62,117 324 4,730 2,887
46Campbellsville 10,840 166 3,579 1,712
10Central City 5,882 153 1,020 615
24Cold Spring 6,191 81 2,455 1,053
43Corbin 7,380 257 3,279 1,667
68Covington 41,072 504 4,090 2,817
48Cynthiana 6,334 268 3,568 1,765
36Danville 16,455 188 2,637 1,430
56Dayton 5,377 242 4,519 2,047
13Edgewood 8,752 11 1,680 680
50Elizabethtown 30,208 136 3,539 1,829
26Elsmere 8,497 188 2,083 1,114
27Erlanger 22,610 97 2,309 1,175
1Flatwoods 7,436 - 498 193
64Florence 31,769 195 4,659 2,449
12Fort Mitchell 8,288 48 1,496 662
3Fort Thomas 16,228 37 721 366
29Fort Wright 5,781 52 3,166 1,269
60Frankfort 27,489 342 3,718 2,258
47Franklin 8,745 263 3,396 1,753
44Georgetown 31,280 198 2,992 1,702
41Glasgow 14,315 154 3,185 1,579
38Harrodsburg 8,380 107 3,270 1,451
66Hazard 5,415 240 6,113 2,641
52Henderson 28,843 225 3,401 1,919
7Highland Heights 6,934 58 1,024 482
20Hillview 7,980 125 1,942 953
54Hopkinsville 32,697 312 3,123 1,973
4Independence 26,433 49 768 427
30Jeffersontown 27,124 129 2,348 1,270
16La Grange 8,426 154 1,436 806
15Lakeside Park-Crestview Hills 5,945 34 1,817 736
5Lawrenceburg 11,120 90 728 440
19Lebanon 5,653 177 1,822 949
45Leitchfield 6,854 219 3,575 1,707
69Lexington 311,848 334 3,891 2,871
42London 8,115 185 3,327 1,590
75Louisville Metro 677,710 591 4,185 3,819
21Madisonville 19,760 96 1,989 1,020
31Mayfield 10,130 128 2,813 1,333
49Maysville 8,895 202 3,766 1,807
71Middlesboro 9,867 152 6,648 2,898
23Monticello 6,155 179 2,031 1,040
18Morehead 6,935 58 2,235 947
57Mount Sterling 7,165 140 4,969 2,131
6Mount Washington 12,170 41 953 457
40Murray 18,188 137 3,057 1,536
74Newport 15,357 495 6,127 3,394
55Nicholasville 28,889 180 3,707 1,975
51Oak Grove 7,461 241 3,780 1,838
59Owensboro 58,659 208 3,839 2,227
72Paducah 25,017 320 5,428 2,950
28Paris 9,754 164 2,471 1,247
73Pikeville 6,908 130 8,309 3,390
35Princeton 6,232 289 2,567 1,413
33Radcliff 23,242 219 2,306 1,390
61Richmond 32,828 308 3,850 2,295
37Russellville 7,053 213 2,878 1,435
25Shelbyville 14,925 168 1,876 1,063
34Shepherdsville 11,788 195 2,681 1,409
63Shively 15,669 421 4,033 2,399
67Somerset 11,503 278 5,642 2,743
53St. Matthews 17,945 189 3,828 1,951
8Taylor Mill 6,746 89 919 488
58Versailles 8,973 156 4,826 2,154
2Villa Hills 7,440 13 780 323
11Vine Grove 5,479 91 1,351 641
14Williamsburg 5,314 169 1,280 729
9Wilmore 6,124 98 1,029 538
62Winchester 18,387 228 4,541 2,326

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