Safest Cities in Delaware – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

Delaware posted slightly concerning crime numbers in 2018: its 4.24 per 1,000 violent crime rate is about 15% higher than the national rate, though the state fared a bit better in the category of property crime, earning a rate 5% higher than national levels. With a couple exceptions, the crime situation in Delaware’s 5 safest cities is a bit more optimistic that the state’s at large.

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Crime rate per 1,000
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Law enforcement per 1,000

The safest city in Delaware is Newark, a city of 34K in New Castle County 12 miles south of Wilmington, the state’s largest city. Home to the University of Delaware, Newark earned violent and property crime rates below state and national levels in 2018, while its total crime rate is tied for the lowest in the state.

Smyrna earns the #2 spot in the ranking of Delaware’s safest cities. Though crime in Smyrna is on par with statewide levels, the city has one of the largest law enforcement-to-resident ratios in Delaware, which helps to keep the city’s residents safe.

Ranking 3rd is Middletown, a New Castle County city of 22,350. Middletown’s violent crime rate of 2.86 per 1,000 is the lowest in the state, while its total crime rate is tied for the lowest. The only thing keeping Middletown out of the top spot is its low law enforcement-to-residents ratio.

There’s a bit of a dip between Delaware’s top 3 safest cities and the remaining entries on the list, as #4 Dover and #5 Milford are each plagued by violent and property crime double the national rate in both categories. However, one bright spot for the cities is their high ratios of law enforcement-to-residents, which are both above 3.5 per 1,000.

Delaware’s Safest Cities

DECityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Newark342071006678876722.422.9219.502.57
2Smyrna11791502683031826.974.2422.732.54
3Middletown22350644373950122.422.8619.551.74
4Dover377783011810133211155.887.9747.913.52
5Milford11301855654165057.527.5250.003.63

Methodology

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.