Safest Cities in South Carolina – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

With per capita violent and property crime rates above national levels according to the latest FBI crime data, South Carolina cannot claim to be one of the safest cities in the country. Nevertheless, the Palmetto State is home to plenty of safe communities boasting low crime levels and well-staffed police forces.

0
Crime rate per 1,000
0
Law enforcement per 1,000

Aiken tops the list of South Carolina’s safest cities. Despite a higher-than-national average violent crime rate, the city, which was named “The Best Small Town of the South” by Southern Living, makes up for it with a very low property crime rate of 8.26 per 1,000 and a high ratio of law enforcement to residents of 3.82 per 1,000.

The second safest city in South Carolina is Blufftown, a fast-growing Lowcountry community of 22.5K in Beaufort County. Blufftown excels in many areas, and safety is one of them: the city’s 2.21 per 1,000 violent crime rate is just 45% of the statewide rate.

Mount Pleasant is 3rd in the ranking of South Carolina’s safest cities. The large Charleston County community earned some of the lowest crime rates in the state, despite a large population of nearly 90,000.

4th in the ranking is Fort Mill, a suburb of Charlotte with the perfect balance of low crime rates and a law enforcement-to-residents ratio above 3 per 1,000. Fort Mill is followed by Port Royal (#5), a city on Port Royal Island that boasts the lowest violent crime rate of any city in South Carolina’s top 5. 

South Carolina’s Safest Cities

SCCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Aiken3088112025511837512.143.898.263.82
2Bluffton22578502525230213.382.2111.162.30
3Mount Pleasant897331381221183135915.141.5413.612.04
4Fort Mill18618313285635919.281.6717.623.01
5Port Royal13227161982421416.181.2114.971.81
6Mauldin25418424396348118.921.6517.272.48
7Hanahan26060603464240615.582.3013.281.61
8Charleston1370924152848514326323.803.0320.773.75
9Tega Cay1076372192822621.000.6520.352.60
10Goose Creek4354510595593106024.342.4121.932.14
11Lexington21680796626074134.183.6430.542.77
12North Augusta23161438938993640.411.8638.563.84
13Simpsonville22641416945273532.461.8130.652.30
14North Myrtle Beach16688105975150108064.726.2958.438.99
15Summerville515651401740133188036.462.7233.742.58
16Cayce142381126618277354.297.8746.435.76
17Beaufort13920815815766247.565.8241.744.09
18Greenville696083682810244317845.665.2940.373.51
19Moncks Corner11484684093347741.545.9235.612.87
20Greer31722134114479127840.294.2236.062.49
21Rock Hill740493612794192315542.614.8837.732.59
22Orangeburg128201707509192071.7613.2658.507.10
23Irmo12413644472751141.175.1636.012.18
24Conway2478414196059110144.425.6938.732.38
25Sumter398983661873149223956.129.1746.943.73
26Columbia1335409866753454773957.957.3850.573.40
27Newberry10293914572854853.248.8444.402.72
28North Charleston11284010396567389760667.419.2158.203.45
29Myrtle Beach3368747335533264026119.5114.04105.479.68
30Easley21203105125457135964.094.9559.142.69
31Forest Acres10375506543170467.864.8263.042.99
32Gaffney1281610490845101278.968.1170.853.51
33West Columbia17368181129260147384.8110.4274.393.45
34Florence378193622462101282474.679.5765.102.67
35Greenwood23265392159457198685.3616.8568.512.45

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.