Safest Cities South Dakota - header

South Dakota – A major agricultural grassland state, it is instinctively associated with ranching and its troubled late 19th century history with respect to its Native American population. Home to Mount Rushmore, the state takes its name from the indigenous Native American tribes. Today it's still home to a large Native American population. The state's population, at approximately 870,000, occupies the 17th largest state of the union by area. The result is a low population density, which is presently ranked 46th in the US.

The state’s economy remains heavily agriculture and ranching based. Even after the notorious “Dustbowl” environmental disaster of the earlier 20th century, the state remains a major producer of crops (in the east), as well as livestock. The defense and tourism industries now also play major contributory roles in the states economy.

3.67 Average violent crime per 1,000
24.49 Average property crime per 1,000

South Dakota’s household and per capita incomes are below the national average by 5-8%. at $57,000 and $30,000 respectively. The state’s crime statistics are:

  • It’s the 18th safest state for property crime (where 1st = lowest crime)
  • Violent crimes are marginally above national averages with a ratio of 1.06 based upon 3.67 violent crimes per 1,000 versus the national average figure of 3.47.
  • By contrast, property crime is significantly lower than national levels at 24.49 against the national level of 40.43 – giving a ratio of 0.61

Certain locations in South Dakota are significantly safer than others for crime statistics. The top 5 safest areas of the state include:

  1. ​Brandon
  2. Brookings
  3. Huron
  4. Watertown
  5. Vermillion

Safest Cities in South Dakota, 2019

RankCityViolent CrimesProperty CrimesViolent Crime RateProperty Crime Rate
11Sioux Falls8015,0834.50328.574
12Rapid City4802,8726.40138.300


To identify the safest cities in South Dakota, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. A total of 7,639 cities were factored into this ranking with populations ranging from 7,639 to 4,007,147. However, we eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 10,000.

Overall, data from 8,793 law enforcement agencies that represented more 193 million of the US population helped us draw interesting insights between the size of the police force and incidence of crime.

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 rated them using the population of the city and 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 we normalized it so the final number became a score between 0 and 1.

Next, we computed a new variable called Police Adequacy (TotalCrimes / Number of police employees). We consider that the smaller the police adequacy statistic is, the safer the city is. We transformed and normalized this police adequacy variable also, resulting in a score between 0 and 1. Finally, we combined the two scores to create a safety score for each city.

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