Morgan Quitno's America's Safest Cities


Press Release | Safest Rank Order of 315 Cities | Most Dangerous Rank Order of 315 Cities

Alpha Order of 315 Cities | "Missing Cities" | Top/Bottom 25 | Population Groupings |

Previous Years' Rankings | Metro Area Awards | Corporate Information | MQ Home Page

The methodology for determining America’s Safest City and Metro Area involves a multi-step process. First, 1998 city and metro area crime rates per 100,000 population (the most recent comparable final numbers available, released by the FBI in October 1999) for six basic crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft — were plugged into a formula that measured how a particular city or metro area compared to the national average for a given crime category. The outcome of this equation was then multiplied by a weight assigned to each of the six crime categories. For this year’s award, each of the six crimes was given equal weight. By weighting each crime equally, cities are compared based purely on their crime rates and how they stack up to the national average for a particular crime category. These weighted numbers then were added together for a city or metro area’s final score. Finally, these scores were ranked from lowest to highest to determine which cities and metropolitan areas were safest and most dangerous.

While this methodology appears rather complicated, it results in fairer treatment because a city or metro area’s crime record is measured against the national average. The farther below the national average, the higher (and better) a city or metro ranked in the final Safest Cities and Metros list; the farther above the national average, the lower (and worse) a city or metro ranked in the final list.

Like last year’s award, all cities of 75,000 population or more that reported data for the six categories of crime measured for the survey were included in the competition. In previous years, the population cut-off for cities was 100,000+ population. There was no population minimum for metropolitan areas.  The tables show final scores for 315 cities and 247 metro areas. The results are presented in alphabetical and rank order by Safest and by Most Dangerous.  These last two are simply the reverse of each other.


This year, nine cities of 100,000 population or more did not report complete crime information and thus were not included in the Safest Cities rankings. Chicago was the largest and most significant city for which data were not available. The other cities are: Aurora, IL; Naperville, IL; Peoria, IL; Rockford, IL; Springfield, IL; Cedar Rapids, IA; Kansas City, KS and Overland Park, KS. Calls to state and city police statisticians provided the specific reasons for each location’s data problems:

Chicago and Other Illinois Cities: For several years, rape numbers submitted by cities in the state of Illinois have not met the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) guidelines. This remains the case with 1998 crime data. According to state statisticians, the state of Illinois tracks "sexual assault," which includes not only female rapes, but also offenses such as male rape, sodomy, etc. Chicago police statisticians said the best they could do is to separate out female victims of sexual assault. However, even this number is not comparable to other cities’ rape numbers because it includes not only rapes, but also various other sexual offenses to females. For these reasons, Chicago, Aurora, Naperville, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield are not found in this year’s Safest Cities rankings.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: According to state statisticians in Iowa, Cedar Rapids has had problems off and on since 1992 when it switched computer systems for tracking crime data. Once again in 1998, the city did not submit numbers to the FBI. Iowa Department of Public Safety officials report that Cedar Rapids is making progress and hope that the city will submit numbers for 1999.

Overland Park and Kansas City, Kansas: Likewise, Overland Park and Kansas City, Kansas are coping with changes to their crime reporting systems. According to a Kansas state police department statistician, Overland Park and Kansas City hope to have data to submit to the FBI next year.


The metropolitan areas for which crime information is shown are those which meet two criteria.  First, at least 75% of all law enforcement agencies must have reported crime statistics, and second, the central city/cities must have submitted 12 months of data in 1998.  There are several metro areas that did not meet these criteria in 1998 and thus are not included in the report. Most notably, statistics are not available for the metro areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville and St. Louis.

Press Release | Safest Rank Order of 315 Cities | Most Dangerous Rank Order of 315 Cities

Alpha Order of 315 Cities | "Missing Cities" | Top/Bottom 25 | Population Groupings

Previous Years' Rankings | Metro Area Awards | Corporate Information | MQ Home Page