Special Report

The Safest Cities in America

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

25. Virginia Beach, Virginia
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 138.3
> 2015 murders: 19
> Poverty rate: 8.3%
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%

There were 138 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Virginia Beach in 2015, roughly one-third the national violent crime rate. Of the 626 violent crimes that were reported in the city that year, there were 234 aggravated assault incidents, 270 robberies, 103 rapes, and 19 murders. The number of murders reported in Virginia Beach is exceptionally high compared with other relatively safe cities, most of which reported no more than two murders last year.

Crime tends to be less prevalent in more affluent areas. Virginia Beach is one such area, with a poverty rate of just 8.3%, or nearly half the national poverty rate of 15.6%.

Simi Valley, California
Source: Thinkstock

24. Simi Valley, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 136.5
> 2015 murders: 1
> Poverty rate: 6.6%
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%

Like residents of most of the nation’s safest cities, Simi Valley residents are well-off financially. The typical household earns $89,595 a year, the 13th highest median household income of major U.S. cities and considerably higher than the national median household income of $53,482. Low violent crime levels are tied to the affluence of a city’s population. In these cities there are often more lawful activities — employment opportunities, for example — available to residents.

Arvada, Colorado
Source: Thinkstock

23. Arvada, Colorado
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 135.2
> 2015 murders: 2
> Poverty rate: 8.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

While there is no evidence that unemployed individuals are more likely to commit violence than individuals who are employed, cities with low crime rates tend to also have relatively healthy job markets. Arvada is one such city — just 3.6% of the workforce is unemployed, well below the national annual rate of 5.3%.

Provo Temple and Fountain, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

22. Provo, Utah
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 132.7
> 2015 murders: 0
> Poverty rate: 30.1%
> Unemployment rate: 3.0%

The FBI did not document a single murder or nonnegligent manslaughter in Provo last year, one of only a handful of major U.S. cities where such killings were practically nonexistent. As is almost always the case, aggravated assaults made up the majority of violent incidents in Provo. At 67 incidents per 100,000, Provo’s aggravated assault rate is less than a third of the national rate of 237 aggravated assaults per 100,000 Americans.

Compared with other relatively safe cities, Provo’s poverty rate is exceptionally high. At over 30% it is close to double the national poverty rate.

Round Rock, Texas
Source: Thinkstock

21. Round Rock, Texas
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 131.9
> 2015 murders: 1
> Poverty rate: 9.8%
> Unemployment rate: 3.2%

With a violent crime rate of 132 incidents per 100,000, well under half the national rate of 373 per 100,000, Round Rock is one of the safest cities in the United States. However, violent crime rose by 33.0% over the five years through 2015, among the largest spikes of any major U.S. city. Specifically, there was a 61.2% surge in the number of aggravated assaults, the eighth largest such increase. Round Rock’s dramatic population growth over that time of 13.7% can partly explain the increase in the number of crimes. Still, crime levels remain low, likely explained by the same economic factors that attract residents to the city. Fewer than 10% of residents live in poverty, and just 3.2% of the workforce is unemployed, each among the lowest such percentages of any major city.

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