Crime has risen in North Dakota in recent years, coinciding with the shale oil boom that resulted in a rapid expansion of the state’s population and the growth of its economy. Nevertheless, North Dakota’s violent and property crime rates remain below nationwide levels in each category. While the state’s safest cities don’t compare with the safest in the nation, they boast respectively low crime levels.
West Fargo is North Dakota’s safest city. Although the city has more than doubled its population since the year 2000, it earned an impressively low violent crime rate of 1.79 per 1,000, which is less than half of the national average.
North Dakota’s 2nd safest city is Dickinson, another community that has undergone a significant population expansion in the wake of the North Dakota oil boom. Though crime and homelessness have risen in recent years, Dickinson’s violent crime rate is comfortably below national levels.
Minot, known as “The Magic City” is North Dakota’s 3rd largest city, with a population of nearly 49K. Though its property crime rate is near the national average, Minot’s rate of violent crime is just 74% of the national rate.
Jamestown is North Dakota’s 4th safest city, logging crime rates very similar to #3 Minot’s, with below average violent crime and average property crime. However, Jamestown’s population is less than a third of the larger cities.
Grand Forks, fills out the list of the state’s five safety cities. Grand Forks mirrors the crime trends seen in other North Dakota cities by posting a violent crime rate of 2.57 per 1,000 and a property crime rate slightly above national levels.
North Dakota’s Safest Cities
ND 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 West Fargo 37,385 67 527 74 594 15.89 1.79 14.10 1.98
2 Dickinson 22,878 56 500 61 556 24.30 2.45 21.86 2.67
3 Minot 48,829 134 1011 106 1145 23.45 2.74 20.70 2.17
4 Jamestown 15,378 40 341 35 381 24.78 2.60 22.17 2.28
5 Grand Forks 57,662 148 1410 103 1558 27.02 2.57 24.45 1.79
6 Bismarck 74,644 223 2034 157 2257 30.24 2.99 27.25 2.10
7 Mandan 22,743 82 690 41 772 33.94 3.61 30.34 1.80
8 Fargo 124,906 522 3931 196 4453 35.65 4.18 31.47 1.57
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.