Safest Cities in Kentucky – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

Compared to nationwide levels, Kentucky has admirably low levels of crime. The Bluegrass State’s violent crime rate of 2.12 per 1,000 is around 57% of the national rate, while the state’s rate of property crime is below average, as well. Much more impressive are the crime rates of Kentucky’s safest cities, which are a fraction of the already-low statewide rates.

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

Kentucky’s safest city is Independence, a home rule-class city of 28K in Kenton County. Kenton recorded just 23 violent crimes in 2018 for a remarkable violent crime rate of 0.82 offenses per 1,000. The city’s property crime rate is even more impressive, just over one-quarter of the national average.

Erlanger, Kentucky’s 2nd safest city, earned crime rates nearly as low as the top entry on the list. The Kenton County city logged a crime rate below 1 offense per 1,000, while its 8.09 per 1,000 property crime is just a notch higher than the preceding entry’s.

Though violent crime is twice as high in #3 Madisonville compared to Kentucky’s #1 and #2 safest cities, it’s still considerably below the national rate. What makes Madisonville so safe is its high law enforcement-to-residents ratio of 3.06 per 1,000.

Mount Washington, the 4th city in the ranking, earned a 0.82 per 1,000 violent crime rate matching #1 Independence’s. The city’s slightly higher property crime rate is the only thing keeping it from the top spot.

Last but not least is Lawrenceburg (#5), a small city in Anderson County that in 2018 earned the lowest violent crime rate in Kentucky, due to the fact that the city recorded a mere 4 violent crimes in the year. As with Mount Washington, Lawrenceburg is brought down only by its marginally higher rate of property crime.

Kentucky’s Safest Cities

KYCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Independence2805223154381776.310.825.491.35
2Erlanger2299322186452089.050.968.091.96
3Madisonville18959372095824612.981.9511.023.06
4Mount Washington1470412131201439.730.828.911.36
5Lawrenceburg1137841422014612.830.3512.481.76
6Elizabethtown30180644007246415.372.1213.252.39
7Danville16801342834431718.872.0216.842.62
8Somerset11453302474527724.192.6221.573.93
9Versailles26552273913741815.741.0214.731.39
10Jeffersontown27443445065855020.041.6018.442.11
11Bardstown13244262613028721.671.9619.712.27
12Murray19402234244844723.041.1921.852.47
13Covington404481641097122126131.184.0527.123.02
14Hopkinsville3060685997111108235.352.7832.583.63
15Nicholasville30922608246588428.591.9426.652.10
16Glasgow14411334523948533.652.2931.362.71
17Georgetown343516299260105430.681.8028.881.75
18Lexington325579982103297011131134.743.0231.732.15
19Newport14972465694261541.083.0738.002.81
20Frankfort2766471105272112340.592.5738.032.60
21Ashland20525307744680439.171.4637.712.24
22Paducah2493393113482122749.213.7345.483.29
23Shively15876555783463339.873.4636.412.14
24Florence3270159124068129939.721.8037.922.08
25St. Matthews18228378234486047.182.0345.152.41
26Owensboro596861602638131279846.882.6844.202.19
27Bowling Green682682083312147352051.563.0548.512.15

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.