Safest Cities in Virginia – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

Across the board, Virginia is one of the safest states in the U.S.: the latest FBI crime data shows that the state had the nation’s 13th lowest property crime rate and 4th lowest violent crime rate in 2018, and its major cities all boasted violent crime rates below the national average.  

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

Fittingly, Virginia’s safest cities have crime rates on par with the safest cities in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at Old Dominion’s five best performing cities.

Purcellville, a small town of just over 10,000 in Loudoun County, is the safest community in Virginia. The town recorded just 59 total crimes in 2018 for a total crime rate of 5.85 per 1,000. 

Coming in #2 is Hampton, a large city of nearly 134K that boasts very low crime rates for a city its size. While its 2.36 per 1K rate of violent crime isn’t among the lowest in the state, Hampton makes up for it with its high 2.77 per 1,000 ratio of law enforcement personnel to residents. 

The third safest city in Virginia is Manassas Park, a small city in Prince William County to the south of Bull Run, a river immortalized in the name of two famous Civil War battles. Many more were harmed during those battles than is usual in Manassas Park, which posted a violent crime rate of 1.48 per 1,000 in 2018,or less than half of the nationwide average.

#4 Vienna was also the site of an early Civil War skirmish, yet is considerably more peaceful in present times, with the lowest violent crime rate of any Virginia city, at 0.48 per 1K. The city’s property crime levels–while low by national standards–are just high enough to keep Vienna out of the spot of Virginia’s safest city.

Closing out the list of Virginia’s five safest cities is Blacksburg, a prosperous community that is home to Virginia Tech, a renowned public, land-grant, research university. Blacksburg is one-third of one of the fastest growing metropolitan statistical areas in the country (the Blacksburg-Christianburg-Radford MSA), with low crime being one of the main draws for the many moving into the area.

Virginia’s Safest Cities

VACityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Purcellville10090134617595.851.294.561.68
2Hampton13396531674337110597.912.365.552.77
3Manassas Park1688225111381368.061.486.582.25
4Vienna166608149511579.420.488.943.06
5Blacksburg4485341322763638.090.917.181.69
6Poquoson1201119101241209.991.588.412.00
7Herndon24697322596729111.781.3010.492.71
8Falls Church14884121764018812.630.8111.822.69
9Fairfax City24259244058142917.680.9916.693.34
10Leesburg560301006269572612.961.7811.171.70
11Radford17797522374728916.242.9213.322.64
12Culpeper18671312965432717.511.6615.852.89
13Manassas4188810563611874117.692.5115.182.82
14Alexandria1625882602482408274216.861.6015.272.51
15Front Royal15356332795131220.322.1518.173.32
16Salem25942245038452720.310.9319.393.24
17Harrisonburg5486911083412194417.202.0015.202.21
18Virginia Beach4510015287772953830018.401.1717.232.11
19Waynesboro22470504775852723.452.2321.232.58
20Christiansburg22444435326657525.621.9223.702.94
21Lynchburg816032751627188190223.313.3719.942.30
22Hopewell22562995537965228.904.3924.513.50
23Bristol16613425137255533.412.5330.884.33
24Charlottesville485851741161140133527.483.5823.902.88
25Staunton24584466086365426.601.8724.732.56
26Chesapeake2423109795191519617025.464.0421.422.14
27Suffolk908172512340231259128.532.7625.772.54
28Newport News1787349425148567609034.075.2728.803.17
29Petersburg31568224916111114036.117.1029.023.52
30Martinsville13025544715052540.314.1536.163.84
31Fredericksburg2891910899994110738.283.7334.543.25
32Norfolk24434711348463801959739.284.6434.643.28
33Richmond22992711908807841999743.485.1838.303.66
34Colonial Heights17857506765672640.662.8037.863.14
35Danville407812161632134184845.325.3040.023.29
36Roanoke1000424274434309486148.594.2744.323.09
37Portsmouth942187494977350572660.777.9552.823.71

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.