by Susan Gulliford
Safety is major priority in deciding where to live. The ValuePenguin team analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safest places in Alabama. These 83 cities had populations of at least 5,000 people, and the final crime scores ranged from 511 to 7,436. The score takes into account violent and property crime and adjusts it per population size. Of the top five safest places, three are suburbs and two are communities in Northeast Alabama. For more insight, take a look at our report.
5 Safest Places in Alabama
These cities have an average final crime score of 667, which is 75% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.
1. Helena, AL
This town proclaims “Helena, it’s where you want to be,” and, if you want safety, it is for you. This suburb of Birmingham earned the lowest crime score in our research on Alabama cities. The city's homeownership rate (69.7%) is not noticeably above the national average (64.9%). It's no stranger to recognition for its high quality of life: Business Week and Money recognized it as an excellent place to live. Out of the top five safest cities, Helena has the lowest amount of property crimes per 100K.
2. Satsuma, AL
Satsuma is the smallest city on this list with a population of 6,156, per the FBI Crime Report. It is also a geographically small community of 6.5 square miles. This Mobile, Alab., suburb took its name from the Satsuma oranges that were once a large part of its economy. The median household in Satsuma has a higher income ($60,062) than the median household in Alabama ($42,849). Residents of Satsuma are also older than the typical Alabama resident (41.6 to 38.3). Satsuma had only seven violent crimes and had the second smallest total number of violent crimes.
3. Vestavia Hills, AL
The largest city in the top five (population: 34,009), this Birmingham suburb has as its motto, “A Life Above.” This suburb boasts a well-educated population with 67.1% of its residents age 25-plus having a bachelor’s degree or higher and a high median household income ($81,352). The school system is well-regarded with one of its elementary schools, Liberty Park, ranked second in the state. Vestavia Hills recorded zero rapes for the year surveyed.
4. Southside, AL
Another small community (population: 8,564), Southside is located in Etowah county. The town was incorporated relatively recently, in 1957. The town boasts a solid median income of $67,090 and a low poverty rate of 5.1%. It had the fourth-lowest rate of property crimes per 100,000 residents for cities that submitted property crime data.
5. Rainbow City, AL
Rainbow City is also in Etowah County, in the northeast part of the state. Adjusted for population, it ranked fifth-safest for both violent and property crime. The city’s median income in 2013 of $46,519 was close to the Alabama median income of $42,849 in the same year. Rainbow City takes its name from the Rainbow Battalion.
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 Alabama
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Alabama” 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 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.
We removed two cities (Boaz and Midfield), which the FBI believed to have underreported its data.
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