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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.

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Jason
 

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