How to Start a Neighborhood Watch Program

how to start a neighborhood watch

When you see a neighborhood watch sign on a street corner--you know the one--with a big red line slashing across the dark silhouette of a man in a fedora and trench coat, you automatically feel safer. Why? Because you know inhabitants of the neighborhood are banding together to take an active stand against crime and vandalism in their local community.   

Since its beginnings in the early 70’s, the National Neighborhood Watch program, a branch of the National Sheriff’s Association, has been motivating citizens to rally together and work with local law enforcement to prevent neighborhood crime. While a neighborhood watch isn’t a vigilante task force, it can be empowering for residents of a community that often feel helpless. Does your local area lack a neighborhood watch program? Now’s the time to start one, and we’ll help you through it, step-by-step.

Why start a neighborhood watch?

There’s several key reasons for starting a neighborhood watch program in your neighborhood. Let’s go over them here.

  • A neighborhood watch helps reduce crime and deters criminals from operating in your neighborhood.

This is the big reason for starting a watch, and they do work to lower neighborhood crime. While there is a lack of recent studies on neighborhood watch programs, a 2008 U.S. Justice Department meta-analysis of U.S., U.K. and Canadian research done between 1977 and 1994 found that there was a 16% average decrease in crime compared to control areas that lacked a neighborhood watch. There is no more effect step that residents of a neighborhood can take to reduce crime in their area.

  • Participating in a neighborhood strengthens the bonds within a community and bolsters civic pride.

These days, with fewer neighborhood residents knowing and having relationships with their neighbors than in the past, according to a recent Pew study, a neighborhood watch is a perfect way for residents to increase interaction with those that they live amongst. When residents of a community cooperate towards a common goal, they develop lifelong bonds and a renewed sense of trust in one another. A watch also grants a community a stronger sense of self-identity and responsibility to do well by their neighbors.

  • A neighborhood watch raises the level of cooperation between residents and local law enforcement, while increasing faith in the police.

The first step in kicking off any neighborhood watch is contacting the local police, and they should play an active role throughout a watch’s history. Despite their role in protecting the neighborhood, watch members are always encouraged to call the police in the event of suspicious activity, rather than personally intervening. This cooperative relationship puts a human face on the local police force and enhances the community’s faith in them.

  • Your local neighborhood watch positive influences the youth of the community, teaching them the importance of playing an active role in community programs.

When kids witness their parents and neighbors putting an effort towards keeping the neighborhood safe, it motivates them to follow suit when they come of age. Children learn best by example, so showing them that you care about their safety and the greater good of the community points them in the right direction.

  • Residents of a community live a happier life.

A neighborhood watch helps local residents to feel safe and secure, increasing their quality of life. When people worry less about becoming a victim of crime or vandalism, they can focus on the important things in life, i.e., their professions, their favorite pastimes, and their loved ones.

Checklist: Starting a neighborhood watch

The following are the key steps anyone committed to enacting a neighborhood watch should follow:

  • Step 1: Notify the local law enforcement agency.

The local police department in your community will play an integral role in your neighborhood watch program, so informing them of your intention to start a program, before all else, is key. You’ll want to secure their support and commitment to participation. If possible, request that an officer be present during the first meeting of a neighborhood watch to answer questions and demonstrate support.

  • Step 2: Hold an initial meeting.

Since it’s likely the most important meeting your neighborhood watch will hold, make sure that your first neighborhood watch meeting is scheduled at a date and time when residents of the neighborhood will be able to attend, such as a weekend afternoon or evening during the middle of the week. Hold the meeting in a convenient, well-known location like a community center, or library.

The keynote meeting is your chance to demonstrate why a neighborhood watch will be effective and beneficial towards the community, so come well-prepared with guidelines and goals in place. Be ready to answer any and all questions members of your community may have, and have a police officer present to assist in guiding the meeting.   

  • Step 3: Put the word out.

Do everything in your power to let residents--and potential criminals--know that a neighborhood watch is in effect. The best way to do this is by distributing flyers in the mailboxes of every home in the community detailing the goals of your program, and providing phone numbers that residents may call with questions or concerns. Signs and decals posted around the neighborhood that indicate that your neighborhood is protected by a watch is another key element of spreading the word.  

  • Step 4: Organize and assign roles.

Being well-organized and staffed is an important element of an effective program. Have an action plan in place. Know the schedules and availability of participating neighborhood watch members. The most enthusiastic members can be assigned as block captain. Be aware of members’ strengths: if one volunteer is particularly web-savvy, put them in charge of the internet and social media arm of your program. 

  • Step 5: Lead by example.

If you’re the one kicking off a neighborhood watch, you have a responsibility to fulfill your duties and motivate others to participate. If something happens at any point that prevents you from participating at a level appropriate for a community leader, then elect someone better suited to the task.

  • Step 6: Stay committed.

A neighborhood watch is hard work, and it requires a level of commitment from all involved. Don’t start strong and slack off, keep things moving and make sure volunteers remain communicative and on board. Regular meetings are a key part of an active, effective watch program.

Neighborhood safety tips

Take a look at these tips that will help make your neighborhood watch more effective in keeping your community safe:

  • Know what crime occurs in your neighborhood.

By gathering information on the local crime rate, and the types of crime common in your neighborhood, you and other watch members will know what to keep a lookout for.

  • Participate in neighborhood cleanup activities.

A clean community is a safe community. Organize neighborhood cleanup events to beautify the area, clean up vacant lots, and request that local business owners keep their storefronts in good condition.

  • Ensure that your members are well-educated on their responsibilities, as well as their limits.

Members of a neighborhood watch can patrol the area for suspicious behavior, but rarely should they become directly involved with an ongoing crime, which could lead to larger problems for everyone involved. Make sure they know that they ought to call the police, rather than attempt to stop a crime on their own.

  • If your neighborhood has a large hispanic presence, translate reading materials and signs into Spanish.

Don’t leave community members in the cold: if your neighborhood has a large hispanic population, make sure that your signs and flyers reflect this.

  • Encourage residents unable to take an active role in the watch to participate in any way they can.

Even if residents are too busy, or physically unable to take an active role in the program, let them know that they can help by being “window watchers”, and alerting the police if they ever witness suspicious activity outside their homes or from their vehicle. Another way they can help is enhancing their own home security with a security system, which helps to dissuade burglars from operating in the neighborhood.

Summary

Now that you have a firm understanding of why a neighborhood watch is important, and how you can take a leading role in starting one up, the rest is on you. You are about to begin one of the most challenging, yet rewarding projects in your lifetime. We wish you good luck in keeping your community safe!

Safest Cities in North Carolina, 2019

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Although it’s around the middle of the pack of U.S. states in terms of overall crime rates, North Carolina is home to a large number of very safe communities. We gave each North Carolina city (with a population above 10,000) a score on our Safety Index, which combines FBI crime statistics and law enforcement employment numbers to calculate the safety of a given city, and 24 cities in the state earned a 0.24 or above, indicating a high level of public safety well above the U.S. average. 

Of these 24 North Carolina cities, 6 achieved a 0.5 Safety Index score or above, placing them in the upper echelon of safe cities in the country. Let’s take a closer look at these cities to see what makes them so safe.

Pinehurst, a village in Moore County, is North Carolina’s safest community. Renowned as home to Pinehurst Resort, a historic golf resort designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the pioneer of American landscape architecture, Pinehurst earned a 0.6 Safety Index score on the strength of a very low property crime rate that is less than half of the U.S. average.

In terms of safety, #2 Archdale is not far behind. The cozy city of 11.6K 15 miles outside of Greensboro is home to wine vineyards as well as the John Deere Vintage Tractor Museum, which should be on visitor’s short list of North Carolina tourist destinations. 

Sharing the #3 spot are Holly Springs and Mount Airy, two North Carolina cities that earned a 0.54 Safety Index Score, owing to low crime rates and favorable ratios of police officers to residents. Holly Springs, in particular, has received acclaim as a great town to live in, on account of its great public school system and many public parks. Currently boasting a population of around 35,000, Holly Springs has more than tripled its population since the year 2000.

With it’s 0.51 Safety Index score, Elon, a town in Alamance County best known as home to Elon University, just edges out Apex (Safety Index score: 0.5) for North Carolina’s #5 spot. However, both are great family-friendly communities to settle down in.  

Safest Cities in North Carolina, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Pinehurst0.6
2Archdale0.58
3Holly Springs0.54
4Mount Airy0.54
5Elon0.51
6Apex0.5
7Knightdale0.47
8Mount Holly0.45
9Davidson0.44
10Boone0.42
11Clayton0.42
12Stallings0.41
13Kings Mountain0.39
14Waxhaw0.39
15Wake Forest0.39
16Mooresville0.38
17Concord0.36
18Cary0.36
19Leland0.35
20Morrisville0.31
21Fuquay-Varina0.31
22Kannapolis0.28
23Huntersville0.27
24Chapel Hill0.27
25Lenoir0.16
26Southern Pines0.16
27Carrboro0.15
28Havelock0.15
29Matthews0.11
30Newton0.08
31Hendersonville0.07
32Mint Hill0.07
33Tarboro0.05
34New Bern0.04
35Kernersville-0.03
36Lincolnton-0.04
37Jacksonville-0.11
38Garner-0.15
39Belmont-0.22
40Mebane-0.33
41Smithfield-0.33
42Albemarle-0.37
43Rocky Mount-0.39
44Eden-0.39
45Hickory-0.42
46Thomasville-0.44
47Elizabeth City-0.49
48Wilmington-0.49
49Asheboro-0.56
50Asheville-0.6
51Greenville-0.62
52Charlotte-Mecklenburg-0.68
53High Point-0.7
54Fayetteville-0.7
55Greensboro-0.73
56Hope Mills-0.87
57Reidsville-0.88
58Durham-0.9
59Goldsboro-0.93
60Roanoke Rapids-0.98
61Burlington-1
62Gastonia-1
63Henderson-1.42
64Kinston-1.73

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in North Dakota, 2019

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While North Dakota’s population has grown by a considerable 12.77% since 2010, it’s managed to do so without a spike in crime rates: the state is a respectable 21st in property crime and 14th in violent crime. 

Let’s take a look at the four North Dakota cities (with a population greater than or equal to 10,000) that earned favorable scores on our Safety Index, which factors in FBI crime statistics and law enforcement employee numbers to judge the safety of a community.

Dickinson and West Fargo share the title of North Dakota’s safest city, with each earning a Safety Index score of 0.33. Both logged violent and property crime rates below state and national averages, although West Fargo’s violent crime rate of 1.45 per 1,000 and property crime rate of 13.49 per 1,000 best Dickinson in both categories. Dickinson makes up for it by posting a higher law enforcement employees to resident ratio.

Trailing slightly behind is North Dakota’s #3 safest city, Minot, of Ward County. The city of over 50,000 recorded a violent crime rate of 2.67 per 1,000, which is considerably below the national average.

At number four, Williston is the final North Dakota city in our ranking to log a favorable Safety Index score. The city’s property crime rate of 23.34 per 1,000 is on par with the national average, though its violent crime rate is slightly below the national average. 

Safest Cities in North Dakota, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Dickinson0.33
2West Fargo0.33
3Minot0.09
4Williston0.05
5Mandan-0.05
6Jamestown-0.09
7Grand Forks-0.22
8Bismarck-0.24
9Fargo-0.44

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in Wyoming, 2019

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Good news for Wyoming residents: the Cowboy state is among the top ten safest in the country based on its low violent and property crime rates. This is reflected in the performance of Wyoming’s cities on our Safety Index, which utilizes FBI crime statistics and law enforcement employee data to calculate the safety of a community. 

Just 2 of Wyoming’s 10 cities with a population over 10K received negative Safety Index scores (Cheyenne and Rock Springs), indicating higher than average crime rates, meaning that the other 8 performed very favorably. Of the 8 Wyoming cities to earn a positive Safety Index score, 4 truly distinguished themselves, earning a 0.5 or higher. Let’s take a closer look at Wyoming’s 4 safest cities.

Our pick for the safest city in Wyoming is Sheridan, a community in the northern part of the state located halfway between Yellowstone Park and Mount Rushmore that is known for its strong rodeo and cowboy culture. The city logged just 8 violent crimes in 2017, which amounts to a very low 0.44 per 1,000 violent crime rate, less than a quarter of Wyoming’s already low state average.

Placing #2 in the list of ranking of Wyoming’s safest cities is Green River, of the wonderfully named Sweetwater County. The mining and energy hub recorded a terrific 1.63 per 1,000 violent crime rate along with a property crime rate below 10 per 1,000. At #3 Jackson, county seat of Teton County and gateway to the Grand Teton National Park, fared nearly as well, posting violent and property crime rates below the national averages in both categories.

Laramie is the 4th of our 4 Wyoming cities to achieve that lofty goal of a 0.5 Safety Index score or higher.  The city of over 32K recorded just 30 violent crimes in 2017, for a violent crime rate of less than 1 incident per 1,000 residents. 

Safest Cities in Wyoming, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Sheridan0.57
2Green River0.55
3Jackson0.54
4Laramie0.52
5Gillette0.44
6Evanston0.4
7Casper0.14
8Riverton0.03
9Rock Springs-0.14
10Cheyenne-0.28

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in Wisconsin, 2019

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Among the 50 states, Wisconsin does pretty well in terms of safety, recording the 13th lowest property crime rate and 22nd lowest violent crime rate. However, Wisconsin’s safety record is much more impressive when you look at its individual cities: 45 of the state’s cities scored a 0.2 or higher on our Safety Index, which indicates low violent and property crime rates below national averages. Furthermore, 6 Wisconsin cities scored a 0.6 or above on the Safety Index, placing them among the safest in the country. 

Cedarburg is Wisconsin’s safest city. A modestly-sized suburb of Milwaukee located in Ozaukee County, Cedarburg logged remarkably low crime rates, including a near non-existent 0.09 per 1,000 violent crime rate, and a property crime rate about one-third of the Wisconsin state average.

At second place, Monroe is not far behind. The famed “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA” recorded just 16 violent crimes in 2017 which calculates into a 1.49 per 1,000 violent crime rate, which is under half of the state average. 

Sharing the #3 spot are Grafton, of Ozaukee County and New Berlin, of Waukesha County. Both cities earned a high 0.68 score on the Safety Index based on remarkably low violent crime rates below 0.35 per 1,000, along with very respectable property crime rates.

Two more Wisconsin cities distinguished themselves through Safety Index scores above a 0.6: Mequon and Muskego. Both cities have populations around 25,000 and recorded violent crime rates a mere fraction of the U.S. national average. 

Safest Cities in Wisconsin, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Cedarburg0.78
2Monroe0.76
3Grafton0.68
4New Berlin0.68
5Mequon0.61
6Muskego0.6
7Middleton0.59
8Burlington0.58
9Oconomowoc0.55
10Menomonee Falls0.53
11Oregon0.52
12Marshfield0.51
13Marinette0.5
14Whitefish Bay0.48
15Greendale0.46
16Waupun0.46
17Ashwaubenon0.45
18Waunakee0.45
19Kaukauna0.44
20Franklin0.44
21Town of Menasha0.43
22Fox Valley Metro0.42
23Cudahy0.41
24Sun Prairie0.41
25Port Washington0.41
26Hartford0.35
27Waukesha0.35
28Verona0.35
29Whitewater0.33
30Fort Atkinson0.32
31Brookfield0.31
32Pleasant Prairie0.31
33Hobart-Lawrence0.3
34Watertown0.3
35Caledonia0.3
36Oak Creek0.3
37De Pere0.28
38Plover0.27
39Shorewood0.26
40Beaver Dam0.26
41Mount Pleasant0.25
42Stevens Point0.25
43West Bend0.24
44Hudson0.23
45Neenah0.2
46South Milwaukee0.18
47Two Rivers0.18
48Chippewa Falls0.17
49Stoughton0.17
50Portage0.15
51River Falls0.15
52Baraboo0.14
53Onalaska0.13
54Glendale0.13
55Everest Metropolitan0.13
56Wauwatosa0.13
57Platteville0.1
58Greenfield0.08
59Menasha0.08
60Appleton0.08
61Wausau0.06
62Fond du Lac0.04
63Sheboygan0.04
64Menomonie0.04
65Oshkosh0.02
66Fitchburg-0.01
67Eau Claire-0.03
68Wisconsin Rapids-0.03
69Manitowoc-0.04
70Superior-0.07
71Kenosha-0.08
72West Allis-0.11
73Madison-0.11
74Janesville-0.16
75Brown Deer-0.17
76Grand Chute-0.21
77Green Bay-0.22
78La Crosse-0.22
79Beloit-0.28
80Racine-0.35
81Milwaukee-1.78

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in West Virginia, 2019

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West Virginia fares pretty well among the states in crime, posting the 15th lowest property crime rate and 23rd lowest violent crime rate, both of which are below the U.S. national average. However, this tendency towards low crime is not well reflected in West Virginia’s larger cities within our population parameter of 10,000 or higher, indicating that the state’s small communities are much safer, on average. Of West Virginia’s 13 larger cities, 8 earned negative scores on our Safety Index, indicating higher-than-average crime rates, while 5 garnered positive scores. Let’s take a look at these 5 West Virginia cities. 

St. Albans is West Virginia’s safest city. The small Kanawha community recorded a 1.53 per 1,000 violent crime rate, which is less than half of the nationwide average. Not far behind is #2 Weirton, a city of nearly 19K located in the city’s northern tip with violent and property crime rates less than half of the national rate in both categories. 

West Virginia’s #3 safest city is Morgantown, the county seat of Monongalia County picturesquely located on the Monongahela River. The home of West Virginia University recorded a respectable 2.65 per 1,000 violent crime rate and 15.38 per 1,000 property crime rate, which are below state averages. 

There’s a bit of a drop off between West Virginia’s three safest cities and those below them in the ranking. Yet, #4 Fairmont’s violent and property crime rates, while not spectacular, are still an improvement on the national average in each category. Despite its higher than average property crime, #5 Vienna logged a not too shabby 2.11 per 1,000 violent crime rate.

Safest Cities in West Virginia, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1St. Albans0.77
2Weirton0.5
3Morgantown0.4
4Fairmont0.05
5Vienna0.03
6Martinsburg-0.39
7South Charleston-0.47
8Beckley-0.63
9Parkersburg-0.87
10Bluefield-1.04
11Wheeling-1.21
12Huntington-1.27
13Charleston-1.66

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in Washington, 2019

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Like its neighbor Oregon, Washington has lower than average violent crime, yet high levels of property crime. In the state’s larger cities such as Seattle and Spokane, you’re more likely to have your car broken into than become the victim of an assault. Still, despite Washington’s property crime issue, there are plenty of communities in the state with an all-around high level of safety. Let’s take a look at Washington’s five safest cities. 

The safest city in Washington is Snoqualmie, a compact suburb of Seattle well known to fans as the setting for many exterior shots of the cult television show, Twin Peaks. Recording just two violent crimes in 2017, Snoqualmie logged a very low 0.15 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, along with a property crime rate half of the U.S. national average.

Second place goes to Enumclaw, a King County city whose name derives from a Native American legend about two brothers that became thunder and lightning, boasts an excellent violent crime rate -- just 0.85 per 1,000 residents -- along with a property crime rate lower than state and national averages.

There’s not much of a drop-off between #2 Enumclaw and #3 West Richland. In fact, the latter city actually has lower overall crime rates, factoring in its very low property crime rate of 11.71 per 1K, and falls to the #3 spot on account of a lower ratio of law enforcement personnel to residents.

Fourth in the ranking is Sunnyside, a small city in eastern Yakima county. Sunnyside did not muster the low crime rates of Washington’s top three safest cities, but its violent and property crime rates are both below the national average.

Closing out the top five is Oak Harbor, a city on Whidbey Island whose crime rates are quite a bit lower than #4 Sunnyside’s, but logged a lower law enforcement to resident ratio that worsens its overall safety rating. 

Safest Cities in Washington, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Snoqualmie0.59
2Enumclaw0.52
3West Richland0.37
4Sunnyside0.36
5Oak Harbor0.35
6Maple Valley0.34
7Lynden0.31
8Sammamish0.31
9Mercer Island0.3
10Grandview0.29
11Lake Forest Park0.28
12Kenmore0.27
13Camas0.26
14Bainbridge Island0.26
15Pullman0.25
16Newcastle0.23
17Woodinville0.21
18Shoreline0.2
19Anacortes0.18
20Mukilteo0.17
21Bothell0.16
22Kirkland0.15
23Issaquah0.14
24Ferndale0.13
25Battle Ground0.12
26Lake Stevens0.12
27Washougal0.12
28Cheney0.08
29East Wenatchee0.07
30Ellensburg0.07
31Poulsbo0.05
32Redmond0.04
33Bellevue0.04
34Edmonds0.03
35SeaTac0.02
36Covington0.02
37Burien0
38Bonney Lake-0.01
39Mill Creek-0.01
40Sedro Woolley-0.01
41Mountlake Terrace-0.02
42Richland-0.03
43Auburn-0.03
44Monroe-0.06
45Pasco-0.07
46Wenatchee-0.08
47Snohomish-0.08
48Edgewood-0.11
49Marysville-0.14
50Kennewick-0.21
51Mount Vernon-0.27
52Longview-0.28
53Tumwater-0.29
54Walla Walla-0.32
55Lacey-0.34
56Kelso-0.37
57University Place-0.39
58Bellingham-0.4
59Aberdeen-0.42
60Vancouver-0.43
61Spokane Valley-0.44
62Port Angeles-0.46
63Sumner-0.49
64Arlington-0.5
65Lynnwood-0.56
66Des Moines-0.57
67Everett-0.61
68Renton-0.65
69Port Orchard-0.65
70Olympia-0.67
71Puyallup-0.68
72Kent-0.74
73Bremerton-0.77
74Seattle-0.82
75Centralia-0.86
76Federal Way-0.89
77Moses Lake-0.92
78Yakima-0.92
79Lakewood-1.06
80Fife-1.31
81Spokane-1.37
82Tacoma-1.44

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

Did your district make the list? Share the good news!

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Safest Cities in Virginia, 2019

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Good news for Virginians: the state is among the safest in the nation, logging the 11th lowest property crime rate and 4th lowest violent crime rate. Furthermore, “Old Dominion” is without a doubt the safest southern state, as much of the region is marred by high crime rates. In a state full of safe communities, a handful truly distinguish themselves with their elite safety records. Let’s take a closer look at them. 

Virginia’s safest community is Vienna, a town of 16.5K in Fairfax County that frequently gets touted as one of the best places in the country to live due to its excellent public schools, the strong job market of the surrounding area, and last but not least, its very low crime. Vienna posted terrifically low crime rates for 2017: a violent crime rate of 0.24 per 1,000 and property crime rate of 7.96 per 1,000, meaning that’s title as the state’s safest is well deserved.

Following just behind Vienna are #2 Salem and #3 Falls Church, which scored a 0.75 and 0.74, respectively, on our Safety Index. Both boast a violent crime rate of about 0.7 per 1,000 (less than a fifth of the national average), though Salem’s property crime rate is a notch lower. 

Three other Virginia cities belong in the upper echelon of safe US cities based on their high safety scores: Fairfax City, Herndon, and Manassas Park.  Each are smaller cities with populations under 25,000 that recorded violent crime rates less than half of the national average, as well as correspondingly low property crime rates. 

Safest Cities in Virginia, 2019

RankCitySafety Index
1Vienna0.95
2Salem0.75
3Falls Church0.74
4Fairfax City0.7
5Herndon0.66
6Manassas Park0.6
7Williamsburg0.57
8Blacksburg0.51
9Alexandria0.48
10Bristol0.44
11Staunton0.38
12Culpeper0.38
13Martinsville0.37
14Manassas0.37
15Poquoson0.35
16Virginia Beach0.34
17Hopewell0.31
18Waynesboro0.25
19Harrisonburg0.22
20Charlottesville0.19
21Radford0.19
22Suffolk0.16
23Winchester0.02
24Hampton0.02
25Fredericksburg0.01
26Lynchburg0.01
27Colonial Heights-0.09
28Chesapeake-0.11
29Newport News-0.12
30Roanoke-0.24
31Norfolk-0.3
32Danville-0.5
33Petersburg-0.52
34Portsmouth-0.9

Methodology

We used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state rankings. There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is.

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