Unfortunately, New Mexico is one of the more dangerous states in terms of crime: its 2018 violent crime rate of 8.57 offenses per 1,000 residents is over 2 times higher than national levels, while its property crime rate is similarly high. Nevertheless, there are a handful of communities in the “Land of Enchantment” where violent crime is much less of a concern, although property crime is still an issue in most municipalities.
The safest city in New Mexico is Los Alamos, a community famous as the location of the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940’s. Today, Los Alamos boasts crime rates significantly lower than all other communities in the state, particularly in the area of property crime, where its 5.83 per 1,000 rate is less than one-third of the next-lowest city.
Rio Rancho is New Mexico’s 2nd safest city. The fast growing Sandoval County city is one of just two in the state to earn violent and property crime rates below national levels.
3rd on the list is Lovington, a small city of around 11K in Lea County. Although property crime is slightly above average in the city, compared to the national rate, Lovington’s violent crime rate of 1.34 per 1,000 is well under half of the national rate.
New Mexico’s 4th safest city is Carlsbad, a city in Eddy County serving as the disembarkation point for visitors to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. While Carlsbad’s violent and property crime rates are above national levels, the city experiences less crime in all categories than New Mexico as a whole, on average, and has a high ratio of police officers to residents.
Closing out the list is Alamogordo, a city of over 31K in the Tularosa Basin. Though Alamogordo has an issue with property crime, its violent crime rate of 3.06 per 1,000 is below the national rate.
New Mexico’s Safest Cities
NM 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 Los Alamos 18883 24 110 71 134 7.10 1.27 5.83 3.76
2 Rio Rancho 97394 197 1595 214 1792 18.40 2.02 16.38 2.20
3 Lovington 11175 15 271 33 286 25.59 1.34 24.25 2.95
4 Carlsbad 29158 148 844 92 992 34.02 5.08 28.95 3.16
5 Alamogordo 31332 96 1022 84 1118 35.68 3.06 32.62 2.68
6 Santa Fe 84176 333 3388 196 3721 44.20 3.96 40.25 2.33
7 Hobbs 38320 251 1579 103 1830 47.76 6.55 41.21 2.69
8 Los Lunas 15568 189 681 43 870 55.88 12.14 43.74 2.76
9 Deming 14094 141 734 40 875 62.08 10.00 52.08 2.84
10 Gallup 21980 338 1515 79 1853 84.30 15.38 68.93 3.59
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.