Safest Cities in Minnesota – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

True to its friendly image, the Land of 10,000 Lakes has violent and property crime rates below national levels. What’s more, violent crime has dropped in Minnesota for the last ten years straight, including an 8% drop between 2017 and 2018.

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

While the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis are among the safest urban areas of their size in the country, they don’t make the cut for the list of Minnesota’s five safest cities, which is a collection of smaller communities spread across the state.

The safest city in Minnesota is Orono, a city of about 20,000 located on the north shore of Lake Minnetonka. Crime is nearly nonexistent in Orono: the city recorded just 6 violent crimes in 2018 and has a property crime rate less-than-a-third of the national average.

Big Lake is Minnesota’s 2nd safest city. A quiet lakeside community known for its annual “Spud Fest”, Big Lake has the lowest property crime rate in the state, along with a violent crime rate of exactly 1 offense per 1,000.

Minnesota’s 3rd safest “city” is the combined jurisdiction of the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department, comprising parts of the communities of Excelsior, Greenwood, Shorewood, and Tonka Bay. Together, they logged just 3 violent crimes in 2018.

Earning the #4 spot is Minnetrista, which continues Minnesota’s streak of remarkably low violent crime by posting a 0.39 per 1,000 violent crime rate in 2018, coupled with a property crime rate below 10 per 1,000.

The city of Stillwater, located on the St. Croix River just west of Wisconsin, rounds out the list of Minnesota’s 5 safest cities. Known as the shooting location for many popular Hollywood films, including Fargo and Grumpy Old Men, Stillwater logged 2018 violent and property crime rates of about one-third of national levels.

Minnesota’s Safest Cities

MNCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Orono202256118311246.130.305.831.53
2Big Lake11036115315645.801.004.801.36
3South Lake Minnetonka1273138818917.150.246.911.41
4Minnetrista1035748416888.500.398.111.54
5Stillwater1946718151271698.680.927.761.39
6Rosemount2470716187302038.220.657.571.21
7Farmington2335513174261878.010.567.451.11
8Lino Lakes2157712181291938.940.568.391.34
9Chaska2696221227322489.200.788.421.19
10Lakeville6491439532665718.800.608.201.02
11Champlin25304262343126010.281.039.251.23
12Grand Rapids1129791452315413.630.8012.842.04
13New Ulm1320291622417112.950.6812.271.82
14Northfield20535281992722711.051.369.691.31
15Hibbing15998441822722614.132.7511.381.69
16Cloquet11911121812619316.201.0115.202.18
17North Mankato13794191441616311.821.3810.441.16
18Plymouth79559449049394811.920.5511.361.17
19St. Peter12012141521816613.821.1712.651.50
20Hutchinson13862282273525518.402.0216.382.52
21Centennial Lakes11062111481715914.370.9913.381.54
22Eden Prairie64917398738691214.050.6013.451.32
23Savage32029364334146914.641.1213.521.28
24Edina52544238037582615.720.4415.281.43
25Cottage Grove37102255464957115.390.6714.721.32
26New Hope21168143964341019.370.6618.712.03
27Robbinsdale14629492322928119.213.3515.861.98
28Ramsey27023273492837613.911.0012.911.04
29Hopkins18838323343736619.431.7017.731.96
30Elk River24724294294345818.521.1717.351.74
31Rogers13257102362224618.560.7517.801.66
32Minnetonka53573288106383815.640.5215.121.18
33Mendota Heights11381162072022319.591.4118.191.76
34Owatonna25829264383846417.961.0116.961.47
35Sartell18014113012431217.320.6116.711.33
36Golden Valley21688224103843219.921.0118.901.75
37Marshall13713252502427520.051.8218.231.75
38Maple Grove7250244111781116116.010.6115.411.12
39Faribault23806774234350021.003.2317.771.81
40Anoka17574273934142023.901.5422.362.33
41Inver Grove Heights35592905604565018.262.5315.731.26
42North St. Paul12588152201623518.671.1917.481.27
43Hastings22799424123245419.911.8418.071.40
44Rochester1170372272435198266222.741.9420.811.69
45Crystal23310344873852122.351.4620.891.63
46Eagan6698159128986134820.130.8819.241.28
47Apple Valley529226395661101919.251.1918.061.15
48Fairmont10053122442025625.471.1924.271.99
49Buffalo16304173172133420.491.0419.441.29
50Sauk Rapids1385362831828920.860.4320.431.30
51Shakopee41424758105688521.361.8119.551.35
52Red Wing16405404273546728.472.4426.032.13
53Richfield36300817715285223.472.2321.241.43
54Moorhead4365761102470108524.851.4023.461.60
55Austin24935665443661024.462.6521.821.44
56Coon Rapids6281883132274140522.371.3221.041.18
57South St. Paul20260465053455127.202.2724.931.68
58New Brighton22978255643458925.631.0924.551.48
59Oakdale28178376633970024.841.3123.531.38
60Albert Lea17655264663049227.871.4726.391.70
61Prior Lake26925405743061422.801.4921.321.11
62Columbia Heights21119575043156126.562.7023.861.47
63North Branch10511122461325824.551.1423.401.24
64St. Louis Park4959570122769129726.151.4124.741.39
65Alexandria13759513902744132.053.7128.351.96
66Burnsville61592114161386172728.041.8526.191.40
67Bloomington862791652592152275731.951.9130.041.76
68Blaine6564964170581176926.950.9725.971.23
69St. Paul3097561941100827681202338.816.2732.552.48
70Brainerd13404614533051438.354.5533.802.24
71Fergus Falls13839304882951837.432.1735.262.10
72Brooklyn Park812633022465140276734.053.7230.331.72
73Brooklyn Center31128117106560118237.973.7634.211.93
74Mounds View13235234492247235.661.7433.931.66
75Mankato42606140141865155836.573.2933.281.53
76St. Cloud682822622575134283741.553.8437.711.96
77Minneapolis42826133951675010372014547.047.9339.112.42
78Fridley2794385101447109939.333.0436.291.68
79Duluth860483083688172399646.443.5842.862.00
80West St. Paul197987496035103452.233.7448.491.77
81Roseville3670186182960191552.182.3449.841.63
82Maplewood4133990185955194947.152.1844.971.33
83Bemidji1552879109435117375.545.0970.452.25

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.