Safest Cities in Nebraska – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

Looking at statewide crime rates, Nebraska is just above average in terms of safety. The Cornhusker State’s violent crime rate is around 77% of national levels, yet the state’s property crime rate is near the national rate. The same trend of low violent crime and moderate property crime can be seen in Nebraska’s safest cities.

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

Nebraska’s safest city is La Vista, a suburb of Omaha in Sarpy County. La Vista’s property crime rate of 15.72, while not spectacular, is well below the national rate. However, the city’s violent crime rate is the best in the state, and the only one under 1 offense per 1,000 people.

The 2nd safest city in Nebraska is Columbus, the county seat of Platte County. Columbus has crime rates similar to the #1 entry on the list, with only the slightest increase in violent crime, and a slightly lower ratio of police officers-to-residents.

#3 Norfolk’s population of 24K makes it one of the top 10 largest cities in Nebraska. The city is quite safe, as well, with a low violent crime rate comparable to the two preceding entries on the list, and a property crime rate about 18% higher than #2 Columbus’s.

There’s a bit of a drop off between the 3rd and 4th safest cities in Nebraska, as #4 Papillion earned a crime rate 67% higher than Norfolk’s. Nevertheless, Papillion’s violent and property crime rates are still below state and national levels.

Nebraska’s 5th safest city, Bellevue, is much larger than preceding entries: its population of 53.7K is over double that of Norfolk’s, the next largest city. However, Bellevue logged a virtually identical property crime rate as the three cities before it, and its rate of violent crime is only marginally higher.

Nebraska’s Safest Cities

NECityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1La Vista17177162704328616.650.9315.722.50
2Columbus23257263575038316.471.1215.352.15
3Norfolk24458294445247319.341.1918.152.13
4Papillion19588393674640620.731.9918.742.35
5Bellevue53683113983108109620.422.1018.312.01
6Beatrice12244332933632626.632.7023.932.94
7Fremont26465595344159322.412.2320.181.55
8Kearney34261858016888625.862.4823.381.98
9South Sioux City12845243892841332.151.8730.282.18
10Scottsbluff16029554863654133.753.4330.322.25
11Grand Island517682411505102174633.734.6629.071.97
12Hastings24963518305188135.292.0433.252.04
13Lincoln28858910458307479935232.413.6228.781.66
14Omaha46935126281631410161894240.365.6034.762.16
15North Platte2377497100665110346.404.0842.322.73

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.