Safest Cities in New Mexico – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

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.

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

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

NMCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Los Alamos1888324110711347.101.275.833.76
2Rio Rancho973941971595214179218.402.0216.382.20
3Lovington11175152713328625.591.3424.252.95
4Carlsbad291581488449299234.025.0828.953.16
5Alamogordo3133296102284111835.683.0632.622.68
6Santa Fe841763333388196372144.203.9640.252.33
7Hobbs383202511579103183047.766.5541.212.69
8Los Lunas155681896814387055.8812.1443.742.76
9Deming140941417344087562.0810.0052.082.84
10Gallup21980338151579185384.3015.3868.933.59

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.