America’s largest state has plenty of qualities–including a rugged and expansive natural environment and a high economic opportunity rating–although safety isn’t one of them. Alaska’s violent crime rate of 8.85 per 1,000 is the highest in the nation, while its property crime rate is second only to New Mexico’s. Of Alaska’s 4 cities to meet our population parameters, a couple of them perform well in certain crime categories compared to statewide rates, but not by much.
Wasilla is Alaska’s safest city. The Anchorage metro area city’s violent crime rate of 5.80–while not impressive compared to national levels–is the lowest of all qualifying cities, and well below Alaska’s statewide rate. Unfortunately, the city’s 60.54 per 1,000 property crime rate is nearly double Alaska’s already high statewide rate.
State capital Juneau places #2 in the ranking of Alaska’s safest cities. The city’s violent crime rate is a shade below the statewide average, and its property crime rate–though quite high–is below that of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.
Fairbanks is Alaska’s 3rd safest city. With a population of about 31K, Fairbanks is around the same size as #2 Juneau, yet earned both a lower property crime rate and violent crime rate than the preceding city. However, Fairbank’s low law enforcement-to-residents ratio of 1.36 per 1,000 drops it down to the 3rd spot.
#4 Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, is also its least safe. The city’s violent crime rate of 13.10 per 1,000 is over 3 times higher than the national rate, and its property crime rate of 49.28 per 1,000 is over twice as high as national levels.
Alaska’s Safest Cities
AK City Population Violent
Total crimes Crime rate per 1,000 Violent crimes per 1,000 Property crimes per 1,000 Law enforcement per 1,000
1 Wasilla 10,522 61 637 58 698 66.34 5.80 60.54 5.51
2 Juneau 31,922 264 1550 76 1814 56.83 8.27 48.56 2.38
3 Fairbanks 31,635 193 1354 43 1547 48.90 6.10 42.80 1.36
4 Anchorage 291,992 3824 14389 574 18213 62.37 13.10 49.28 1.97
To identify the safest cities, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and cities with populations under 10,000. This left 3,381 cities (out of a total of 9,251).
There are two broad classifications of crimes: violent crimes and non-violent crimes. According to the FBI, “Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. ”
We computed the total number of crimes reported by each city by adding violent crimes and property crimes. We then created a crime rate as the number of crimes per 1,000 population. Then we transformed the total crime rate variable so that the skewness was reduced and normalized.
Data from 2,831 law enforcement agencies was then collected to determine police adequacy (TotalCrimes / Number of police employees). We consider that the smaller the police adequacy statistic is, the safer the city is. This variable was also transformed and normalized.
Finally, the two variables were combined to create a safety score for each city.