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Virginia – The name Virginia inspires images of the “Old South” and a lengthy colonial history. Although widely believed to have been named after Elizabeth I of England in the 16th century, this is not entirely clear. The state is famous for its role in early US history, as it was influential in the Revolutionary War and even more so during the Civil War. With a population of 8.7 million, the state is the 12th most populous in the country. A significant number of people who reside in the northern parts of the state commute daily into Washington DC.

Well-known originally for its cotton and agriculture, after the Civil War diversification became more commonplace. The northern parts of the state today are heavily populated with US government employers, including the CIA. Commuter income arises from the proximity to DC. Agriculture continues to be important around the Shenandoah Valley and elsewhere. Household average incomes at $71,000 are over 15% higher than the US national average. Per capita income at $37,000 is around 12% higher.

2.98 Average violent crime per 1,000
24.28 Average property crime per 1,000

Virginia’s crimes statistics are below the national average:

  • It’s the 17th safest state for property crime (where 1st = lowest crime)
  • The violent crime rate is slightly higher than the US average (ratio 0.86) with 2.98 crimes per 1,000 when measured against the national average of 3.47 - making it the 22nd safest state for violent crime
  • Property crime levels are just over half the national average at 24.28 per 1,000 compared to the national average of 40.43 – giving a ratio of 0.60.

The top 5 statistically safest areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia are:

  1. Vienna
  2. ​Manassas Park
  3. Herndon
  4. Blacksburg
  5. Williamsburg

Safest Cities in Virginia, 2019

RankCityViolent CrimesProperty CrimesViolent Crime RateProperty Crime Rate
1Vienna41320.2417.957
2Manassas Park201471.2389.098
3Herndon382871.54711.685
4Blacksburg243390.5287.460
5Williamsburg241811.55211.705
6Fairfax City333661.35214.996
7Falls Church102130.70014.918
8Radford682373.85513.435
9Alexandria2622,4821.65615.683
10Salem185550.70221.659
11Culpeper453202.46817.552
12Manassas957882.26218.764
13Poquoson191831.58615.274
14Charlottesville1851,0363.89921.835
15Hopewell795963.47726.229
16Harrisonburg1288972.38316.699
17Bristol545623.21533.462
18Martinsville403952.98929.515
19Staunton355511.43322.561
20Virginia Beach6258,7901.37619.346
21Suffolk2742,2313.04724.810
22Winchester1156884.14924.824
23Waynesboro405281.81823.996
24Lynchburg2871,8863.54823.316
25Newport News9075,5284.99130.417
26Chesapeake1,0065,4564.19022.722
27Petersburg2521,0807.94034.028
28Fredericksburg1081,0263.72235.360
29Hampton4074,3643.01632.343
30Norfolk1,3639,1925.55937.489
31Colonial Heights677283.76040.853
32Danville2501,8085.99843.378
33Roanoke4024,4934.01944.918
34Portsmouth6775,4477.11957.277

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in Virginia, 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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