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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|12||South Lake Minnetonka||543|
|27||White Bear Township||713|
|64||St. Paul Park||1,151|
|68||North St. Paul||1,218|
|71||Inver Grove Heights||1,258|
|76||East Grand Forks||1,354|
|78||White Bear Lake||1,382|
|89||St. Louis Park||1,527|
|98||South St. Paul||1,680|
|100||Thief River Falls||1,759|
|102||Spring Lake Park||1,850|
|119||West St. Paul||2,870|
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.
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!
|Rank||City||Population||Violent Crime per 100K||Property Crime per 100K||Crime Score|
|76||East Grand Forks||8,598||279||2,326||1,354|
|71||Inver Grove Heights||34,454||200||1,971||1,258|
|68||North St. Paul||11,948||84||2,653||1,218|
|12||South Lake Minnetonka||12,096||83||1,000||543|
|98||South St. Paul||20,504||385||2,356||1,680|
|102||Spring Lake Park||6,469||186||4,112||1,850|
|89||St. Louis Park||47,957||136||2,719||1,527|
|64||St. Paul Park||5,346||224||2,189||1,151|
|100||Thief River Falls||8,740||252||3,455||1,759|
|119||West St. Paul||19,808||353||5,266||2,870|
|78||White Bear Lake||24,802||125||2,645||1,382|
|27||White Bear Township||11,498||43||1,583||713|