Nevada is officially the fastest-growing state in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of a rapidly expanding population is an elevated level of crime, and, sure enough, Nevada has violent and property crime rates above the national average in both categories.
However, the Silver State is home to three cities where crime is impressively low, along with two more where the situation is improving. Here’s a closer look at Nevada’s safest cities.
Boulder City is the safest city in Nevada. The city is one of just two cities in the state where gambling is prohibited, which is perhaps one of the reasons why crime is so low: Boulder City’s violent crime rate of 0.81 per 1,000 is less-than-half of the that of the Nevada city with the next-lowest violent crime rate.
Nevada’s 2nd safest city, Mesquite, is a Clark County city near the Arizona border known for its golf courses and casino resorts. While Mesquite’s crime record doesn’t quite match that of #1 Boulder City’s, it’s violent and property crime rates are significantly below state and national levels.
3rd on the list is Henderson, a large city of over 310K to the southeast of Las Vegas. Although Henderson is home to numerous gambling casinos, its crime rates are below national rates, proving that legalized gambling does not necessarily lead to elevated crime.
Elko is Nevada’s 4th safest city. Compared to national levels, Elko’s violent and property crime rates are a bit above average, yet the city makes up for it with its status as the economic and cultural center of northeast Nevada.
In a twist, the Las Vegas metropolitan area earns the 5th spot in the list of Nevada’s safest cities. While the city’s violent and property crime rates are a touch above average, they are impressively low for an urban area its size.
Nevada’s Safest Cities
NV 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 Boulder City 16112 13 147 48 160 9.93 0.81 9.12 2.98
2 Mesquite 19055 32 298 46 330 17.32 1.68 15.64 2.41
3 Henderson 309586 583 6072 664 6655 21.50 1.88 19.61 2.14
4 Elko 20764 95 443 46 538 25.91 4.58 21.34 2.22
5 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department 1644390 9949 46673 4535 56622 34.43 6.05 28.38 2.76
6 Sparks 102354 508 2440 162 2948 28.80 4.96 23.84 1.58
7 North Las Vegas 246951 2386 5202 420 7588 30.73 9.66 21.06 1.70
8 Reno 252341 1636 6053 386 7689 30.47 6.48 23.99 1.53
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.