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2016 Safest Places in Minnesota

by Susan Gulliford

If you are looking for picturesque communities with low crime rates that fit a wide variety of budgets, then Minnesota is for you. That is the major takeaway from ValuePenguin’s study of crime in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The top five safest places are a mixture of college towns with median incomes below the state’s median and very affordable housing and affluent suburbs and exurbs with high median household incomes and home values.

The ValuePenguin team examined the FBI Crime Report to determine the safest cities in Minnesota. These 125 cities with more than 5,000 people have crime scores that range from 115 to 4,921. The average crime score for the state of Minnesota is 1,333. You can review the full report here.

5 Safest Places in Minnesota

These cities had an average final crime score of 304, which was 77% lower than their typical peer in the state. These five are the safest places in Minnesota.

1. St. Joseph

The police department has eight sworn officers and nine reserves to keep crime low in this small community of approximately 6,700 people. St. Joseph had the lowest rate of violent crime and the second-lowest rate of property crime for any city in this study. This community is so safe that its crime score was 162 points lower than the second ranked city. This college town (home to the College of Saint Benedict) shows that you do not have to be wealthy to have a safe community. The median household income was 16% lower than the median for Minnesota, and home values were 14% lower than the median for the state.

2. Winona

With a population over 27,000, Winona is the largest city in the top five. It is home to Winona State University. Winona had the lowest rate of property crimes for any city in this research. Residents and visitors alike enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities by Lake Winona. This city, like top ranked St. Joseph, had a median household income and per capita income below that of Minnesota.

3. Minnetrista

This small city (population of 9,235) with numerous lakes to enjoy comes in at number three. The police department educates citizens on topics such as identity theft and internet safety. Minnetrista had the fourth-lowest rate of violent crime and fourth-lowest rate of property crime. This city is very affluent; the median household income was 76% higher than the median for Minnesota and over 52% of the adult population had at least a bachelor’s degree.

4. West Hennepin

The West Hennepin Public Safety Department serves two small communities, Independence and Maple Plain. These towns are approximately a 30-minute drive from Minneapolis. There were only six violent crimes reported in 2014, and West Hennepin had the third-lowest rate of property crime. People from this area enjoy activities at nearby Lake Independence.

5. Orono

Orono is located on Lake Minnetonka, 28 minutes from Minneapolis. The police department offers a wide range of services such as vacation checks, crime mapping and safety tips to keep crime low. These services pay off; Orono had the fifth-lowest rate of violent crime and the sixth-lowest rate of property crime. In addition to natural beauty, this city has a low level of poverty, a high percentage of adults with a college degree (61%), and a median household income 66% higher than Minnesota’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 Minnesota

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Minnesota” 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
1St. Joseph 115
2Winona 277
3Minnetrista 326
4West Hennepin 388
5Orono 415
6Chaska 468
7Corcoran 479
8Farmington 506
9Rosemount 509
10Cold Spring/Richmond 513
11Kasson 517
12South Lake Minnetonka 543
13Glencoe 564
14Isanti 572
15Jordan 575
16Shoreview 597
17Belle Plaine 597
18New Prague 602
19Chisholm 610
20Lakeville 628
21Arden Hills 650
22Crookston 651
23Stillwater 685
24Northfield 696
25Centennial Lakes 698
26Ramsey 711
27White Bear Township 713
28Eden Prairie 713
29Champlin 738
30Wyoming 744
31Medina 751
32Big Lake 757
33St. Peter 773
34New Hope 796
35Minnetonka 807
36Prior Lake 821
37Falcon Heights 830
38Plymouth 830
39Worthington 878
40Lakes Area 893
41Mendota Heights 893
42Sauk Rapids 907
43Little Falls 917
44Buffalo 924
45Maple Grove 925
46Eagan 933
47New Ulm 937
48Sartell 940
49Edina 942
50Woodbury 958
51Cottage Grove 965
52Waseca 992
53Litchfield 1,002
54St. Francis 1,021
55Elk River 1,023
56Rogers 1,023
57Morris 1,039
58Savage 1,083
59Golden Valley 1,087
60North Mankato 1,102
61Apple Valley 1,127
62Hutchinson 1,137
63New Brighton 1,148
64St. Paul Park 1,151
65Shakopee 1,156
66Vadnais Heights 1,166
67North Branch 1,208
68North St. Paul 1,218
69Albert Lea 1,225
70Hibbing 1,254
71Inver Grove Heights 1,258
72International Falls 1,266
73Hermantown 1,280
74St. Anthony 1,302
75Owatonna 1,316
76East Grand Forks 1,354
77Rochester 1,375
78White Bear Lake 1,382
79Redwood Falls 1,394
80Crystal 1,396
81Robbinsdale 1,413
82Marshall 1,429
83Forest Lake 1,431
84Montevideo 1,435
85Hopkins 1,442
86Hastings 1,479
87Richfield 1,490
88Austin 1,506
89St. Louis Park 1,527
90Burnsville 1,540
91Blaine 1,577
92Little Canada 1,579
93Fairmont 1,621
94Detroit Lakes 1,660
95Mounds View 1,664
96Red Wing 1,667
97Willmar 1,674
98South St. Paul 1,680
99Faribault 1,705
100Thief River Falls 1,759
101Grand Rapids 1,772
102Spring Lake Park 1,850
103Alexandria 1,886
104Anoka 1,892
105Fergus Falls 1,992
106Cloquet 2,045
107Baxter 2,067
108Mankato 2,091
109Cambridge 2,123
110Bloomington 2,171
111Brooklyn Park 2,228
112Oakdale 2,262
113Brooklyn Center 2,350
114Maplewood 2,467
115Fridley 2,497
116St. Cloud 2,582
117Roseville 2,618
118Duluth 2,800
119West St. Paul 2,870
120Brainerd 3,113
121Virginia 3,218
122St. Paul 3,358
123Bemidji 4,089
124Waite Park 4,410
125Minneapolis 4,921

Year-over-year Change

There was significant change in the top five from 2015 to 2016. Only two communities, St. Joseph and Minnetrista, made the top five both years. 2015’s number one community did not even rank in the top 10. Last year’s second place finisher, Cold Spring, came in at number 10 overall.

The safest cities in the mid-size category changed significantly year-over-year. Only five cities, South Lake Minnetonka, Stillwater, Centennial Lakes, White Bear Township and Sauk Rapids, were in the top ten for both years. In 2016, no mid-size places made the top five.

Ironically, there was more consistency among the least safest places. Four cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Waite Park and Bemidji, ranked in the bottom five for both 2015 and 2016.

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
69Albert Lea 17,833 163 2,232 1,225
103Alexandria 11,713 222 3,748 1,886
104Anoka 17,295 301 3,261 1,892
61Apple Valley 50,472 83 2,065 1,127
21Arden Hills 9,764 113 1,178 650
88Austin 24,766 266 2,362 1,506
107Baxter 7,815 77 5,003 2,067
17Belle Plaine 6,880 73 1,265 597
123Bemidji 14,513 434 8,089 4,089
32Big Lake 10,348 126 1,382 757
91Blaine 61,187 72 3,007 1,577
110Bloomington 87,163 180 3,674 2,171
120Brainerd 13,462 669 4,866 3,113
113Brooklyn Center 30,858 324 3,937 2,350
111Brooklyn Park 78,986 386 3,004 2,228
44Buffalo 15,909 69 1,923 924
90Burnsville 61,693 115 2,754 1,540
109Cambridge 8,244 109 4,985 2,123
25Centennial Lakes 10,867 92 1,362 698
29Champlin 23,965 83 1,352 738
6Chaska 24,603 49 870 468
19Chisholm 5,035 20 1,569 610
106Cloquet 12,030 233 4,081 2,045
10Cold Spring/Richmond 5,460 73 1,081 513
7Corcoran 5,545 36 1,136 479
51Cottage Grove 35,577 56 1,894 965
22Crookston 7,905 202 860 651
80Crystal 22,692 154 2,587 1,396
94Detroit Lakes 8,978 123 3,709 1,660
118Duluth 86,106 359 4,239 2,800
46Eagan 65,754 36 1,790 933
76East Grand Forks 8,598 279 2,326 1,354
28Eden Prairie 63,036 35 1,347 713
49Edina 49,727 54 1,788 942
55Elk River 23,548 81 2,017 1,023
93Fairmont 10,380 231 3,112 1,621
37Falcon Heights 5,546 90 1,857 830
99Faribault 23,424 320 2,621 1,705
8Farmington 22,428 71 878 506
105Fergus Falls 13,408 321 3,543 1,992
83Forest Lake 19,316 171 2,656 1,431
115Fridley 27,778 245 4,640 2,497
13Glencoe 5,507 54 1,289 564
59Golden Valley 20,959 43 2,343 1,087
101Grand Rapids 11,020 218 3,512 1,772
86Hastings 22,484 178 2,686 1,479
73Hermantown 9,648 104 2,799 1,280
70Hibbing 16,289 295 1,799 1,254
85Hopkins 18,131 204 2,570 1,442
62Hutchinson 13,803 101 2,340 1,137
72International Falls 6,336 189 2,573 1,266
71Inver Grove Heights 34,454 200 1,971 1,258
14Isanti 5,416 37 1,385 572
15Jordan 5,977 67 1,255 575
11Kasson 6,071 66 1,104 517
40Lakes Area 9,341 182 1,520 893
20Lakeville 59,194 42 1,147 628
53Litchfield 6,678 150 2,022 1,002
92Little Canada 10,207 225 3,037 1,579
43Little Falls 8,198 134 1,805 917
108Mankato 40,959 261 3,489 2,091
45Maple Grove 66,354 35 1,780 925
114Maplewood 40,295 151 4,752 2,467
82Marshall 13,433 253 2,449 1,429
31Medina 5,304 19 1,942 751
41Mendota Heights 11,196 63 1,956 893
125Minneapolis 404,461 1,012 4,728 4,921
35Minnetonka 51,769 46 1,526 807
3Minnetrista 9,235 22 736 326
84Montevideo 5,178 212 3,013 1,435
57Morris 5,348 206 1,963 1,039
95Mounds View 12,645 182 3,329 1,664
63New Brighton 22,276 45 2,460 1,148
34New Hope 20,895 72 1,555 796
18New Prague 7,542 106 1,127 602
47New Ulm 13,136 69 2,002 937
67North Branch 10,076 79 2,699 1,208
60North Mankato 13,448 193 1,896 1,102
68North St. Paul 11,948 84 2,653 1,218
24Northfield 20,714 72 1,323 696
112Oakdale 27,870 187 4,342 2,262
5Orono 21,288 23 864 415
75Owatonna 25,544 141 2,423 1,316
38Plymouth 74,833 72 1,415 830
36Prior Lake 24,779 93 1,497 821
26Ramsey 25,250 59 1,378 711
96Red Wing 16,528 218 3,080 1,667
79Redwood Falls 5,107 215 2,898 1,394
87Richfield 36,408 214 2,409 1,490
81Robbinsdale 14,387 195 2,620 1,413
77Rochester 111,712 184 1,990 1,375
56Rogers 12,180 41 2,340 1,023
9Rosemount 22,850 74 871 509
117Roseville 35,332 127 5,247 2,618
48Sartell 16,358 31 2,109 940
42Sauk Rapids 13,382 82 1,868 907
58Savage 29,065 93 2,054 1,083
65Shakopee 39,632 144 1,938 1,156
16Shoreview 26,209 61 1,106 597
12South Lake Minnetonka 12,096 83 1,000 543
98South St. Paul 20,504 385 2,356 1,680
102Spring Lake Park 6,469 186 4,112 1,850
74St. Anthony 8,680 115 2,846 1,302
116St. Cloud 66,366 393 3,782 2,582
54St. Francis 7,349 218 1,769 1,021
1St. Joseph 6,678 - 299 115
89St. Louis Park 47,957 136 2,719 1,527
122St. Paul 297,984 662 3,484 3,358
64St. Paul Park 5,346 224 2,189 1,151
33St. Peter 11,502 87 1,556 773
23Stillwater 18,770 43 1,433 685
100Thief River Falls 8,740 252 3,455 1,759
66Vadnais Heights 13,182 114 2,374 1,166
121Virginia 8,650 532 6,046 3,218
124Waite Park 6,668 285 10,393 4,410
52Waseca 9,329 118 2,026 992
4West Hennepin 5,497 109 600 388
119West St. Paul 19,808 353 5,266 2,870
78White Bear Lake 24,802 125 2,645 1,382
27White Bear Township 11,498 43 1,583 713
97Willmar 19,696 274 2,803 1,674
2Winona 27,546 91 261 277
50Woodbury 66,539 54 1,769 958
39Worthington 12,984 146 1,548 878
30Wyoming 7,737 181 1,189 744

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