by Susan Gulliford
The Badger State has 5.7 million residents interested in safety. The team at ValuePenguin analyzed the latest FBI Crime Report to determine the safest cities in Wisconsin. These 132 communities with at 5,000 residents had crime scores that ranged from 100 to an outlier of 6,059. The average crime score for Wisconsin was 1,150.
Small communities dominate the top five this year. The safest places also have middle-class median household incomes. Only one community was affluent (affluent defined as having a median household income 50% higher than the state’s median). The major takeaway is that safe, affordable communities are available to Badger State residents. You can review the full report here.
5 Safest Places in Wisconsin
These cities have an average final crime score of 201, which was 82% lower than their typical peer in the state. These five are the safest places in Wisconsin.
1. Oconomowoc Town
This community of 8,653 people earned the top rank in this study. It is approximately 37 minutes west of Milwaukee, and there are numerous lakes in this town. Oconomowoc Town is safe for people and their property. It tied for the lowest rate of violent crime, and Oconomowoc Town had the lowest rate of property crime. The police department offers safety tips on its website, house-checks for residents who are away, and boat patrols in spring and summer to keep people safe. The median household income was 33% higher than Wisconsin’s median and the poverty rate was lower than the state’s rate.
With a population of 5,997, Freedom is the smallest community in the top five. It is approximately 18 miles southwest of Green Bay. The town formed the police department in 1998 to keep people and their property safe. Freedom tied with Oconomowoc Town for the lowest rate of violent crime, and it achieved the fourth-lowest rate of property crime in this study. This community had a median household income 44% higher than Wisconsin’s median and a much lower rate of poverty (4.2% for Freedom versus 13.2% for Wisconsin).
3. Mukwonago Town
Mukwonago Town is approximately 33 minutes from Milwaukee, in Waukesha County. The police department celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, and it serves a community with the second-lowest rate of property crime for any Wisconsin city. Mukwonago town is an affluent community with a median household income 85% higher than Wisconsin’s median and a very high rate (97%) of owner-occupied homes.
4. Grand Rapids
Despite its small size (population of 7,587), this community has a full service police department that offers services such as home and business checks. The result is very little crime. Grand Rapids had only three violent crimes reported in 2014, and it had the fifth-lowest rate of property crime. The median household income in Grand Rapids was $73,208, which goes far in this community because the median home price was only $146,000.
Jackson’s motto is "Small Town Living/World Class Technology." This village of approximately 6,700 residents located 31 miles north of Milwaukee offers safety to its residents. In addition to a low number of violent crimes, Jackson had the third-lowest rate of property crime. Unlike other communities in this study, the Jackson police department, established in 1912, has a long history of service to its community. The median household income is almost exactly the same as the state’s median ($53,212 for Jackson versus $52,738 for Wisconsin) and the per-capita income and home values are in line with state averages too.
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 the findings:
Full List of Places in Wisconsin
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Wisconsin” 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.
|27||Town of Menasha||576|
|28||Fox Valley Metro||585|
|41||North Fond du Lac||682|
|69||Prairie du Chien||1,032|
|116||Fond du Lac||1,906|
|122||Town of Madison||2,237|
People want to live in a consistently safe community. Three communities — Oconomowoc Town, Freedom and Grand Rapids — were in the top five in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, Oconomowoc Town was the safest place both years.
The two new entrants to the top five made the top 10 list for safest small communities in 2015. Every community in this year’s top five has a population between 5,000 and 10,000. Last year, five safest places contained a mixture of small, mid-size and large communities.
There are several mid-size and large cities that have strong safety records. Hobart-Lawrence and Cedarburg were the number one and number two safest cities, respectively, in the mid-size category for 2015 and 2016. Also, Mequon and Muskego were the number one and number two safest large cities for both years.
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||Propert Crime per 100K||Crime Score|
|116||Fond du Lac||42,953||328||2,801||1,906|
|28||Fox Valley Metro||20,650||121||872||585|
|41||North Fond du Lac||5,051||139||1,287||682|
|69||Prairie du Chien||5,757||174||2,050||1,032|
|122||Town of Madison||6,571||807||2,633||2,237|
|27||Town of Menasha||19,019||100||946||576|