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What Are The Safest & Least Safe Cities In America?

Photo showing landscape and skyline of large city

GoodHire reviewed FBI Crime Data to assign a safety score based on a weighted sum of three offense types — violent crime, property crime, and society crime. Let’s take a look at the key findings to learn more about the safest and least safe cities in America.

Employment background checks are a key part of the hiring process and an important step in building a team you can trust. Background checks often include a criminal records check, which may reveal a candidate’s criminal history and can help you make an informed hiring decision. In some industries, a criminal background check is required by federal or state regulations, such as education, child care, and healthcare. Background checks may also help maintain a safe work environment for your employees, customers, vendors, and management team.

Depending on the area in which an organization is hiring, a criminal background check may become even more important. Certain cities are home to more crime than others and some by a wide margin. A criminal records check for applicants in these areas might have a higher likelihood of revealing violent crime records, property crime records, sex offender registries, and much more.

To help businesses understand the importance of a criminal background check and to reveal the cities where such searches might be more useful, GoodHire analyzed America’s 100 largest cities, by population size, to uncover the safest and least safe cities.

To do so, GoodHire reviewed FBI Crime Data in three categories: property, violent, and society crime. Each city was then ranked by its rate of offenses per 1,000 people for each of the three offense types. Finally, GoodHire weighted crimes against persons and crimes against property at 40% and crimes against society at 20% and assigned a total rank for each locale. 

The final safety score for each city is a weighted sum of the ranks of the offense types. The safest city receives the lowest safety score (up to 100) and the least safe city receives the highest safety score (up to 100).

Now, let’s get into the key findings to learn more about the safest and least safe cities in America.

The Safest Cities in America

Above you’ll see that Cary, NC is the big winner, with the best safety score — 1.2 out of 100 — among all US cities. McKinney, TX, St. Paul, MN, Frisco, TX, and Sterling Heights, MI round out the top five safest cities in America. 

Joining the top five group as some of the safer cities in the country are three more Texas cities — Pearland, El Paso, and Laredo — while Surprise, AZ, and Alexandria, VA, just outside the Washington, DC area, also land on the top ten safest cities list.

Overall, Texas proudly boasts eight of the top 20 safest cities overall, while the Midwest region showcases four in the top 20.

When it comes to city population size as it relates to safety, the top ten list includes three large, two midsize, and five small cities.

The Least Safe Cities in America

On the other end of the spectrum, Salt Lake City ranks as the least safe city in America with the worst safety score — 94.8 out of 100. Joining Utah’s capitol city on the top five least safe cities list are Springfield, MO, Chattanooga, TN, Memphis, TN, and Little Rock, AR. 

Rounding out the top ten least safe cities in the country are Akron, OH, Cleveland, OH, New Haven, CT, Lubbock, TX, and Detroit, MI. 

This list is populated by an array of different-sized cities, including three large, five midsize, and two small cities. 

The Safest Large, Midsize, and Small Cities in America

A graphic showing the safest large, midsize, and small cities in America

When broken down into population tiers — large, midsize, and small — you’ll see a wide array of cities from different parts of the country making up the top ten lists. 

Starting with large cities, Texas shines once again with three of the top four safest large cities — El Paso, Laredo, and Plano — all trailing the safest large city which is St. Paul, MN.

Within the midsize cities list, Texas again leads with the top two — McKinney and Frisco — along with the sixth and eighth-ranked cities in Grand Prairie and Garland. Overland Park, KS, Madison, WI, and Gilbert, AZ also join the top five for midsize cities. 

The safest small cities in America are situated across the country. Cary, NC, the overall winner, leads this group and is followed by Sterling Heights, MI, Pearland, TX, Surprise, AZ, and Alexandria, VA, all of which are represented in the overall top five as well. 

Finally, let’s take a look at the full rundown of all US cities and how they stack up in terms of safety. Businesses can use this list to monitor potential criminal activity during the employment hiring and employment process. 

The Full List of the Safest and Least Safe Cities in America

Cities Ranking
Crime Rank
Crime Rank
Crime Rank
Safety Score
1Cary, NC1121.2
2McKinney, TX7234.2
3St. Paul, MN46136.6
4Frisco, TX23257.0
5Sterling Heights, MI14417.4
6Pearland, TX874014.0
7Surprise, AZ1154715.8
8Alexandria, VA1721716.6
9El Paso, TX1883717.8
10Laredo, TX2891818.4
11Plano, TX6126720.6
12Overland Park, KS16262421.6
13Virginia Beach, VA15135722.6
14Madison, WI10431524.2
15Gilbert, AZ12108024.8
16Grand Prairie, TX9187225.2
17Richardson, TX3159125.4
18Bridgeport, CT4420626.8
19Bellevue, WA5561627.6
20Warren, MI34144327.8
21Olathe, KS26116828.4
22Boise, ID19196929.0
23Mesa, AZ22167730.6
24Norman, OK20462130.6
25Fort Worth, TX35331931.0
26Garland, TX27284631.2
27Providence, RI3242931.4
28Worcester, MA4237432.4
29Raleigh, NC31176632.4
30Brownsville, TX48232032.4
31Pasadena, TX41254435.2
32Boston, MA60291137.8
33Charleston, SC29317338.6
34Cedar Rapids, IA21555942.2
35Colorado Springs, CO24644143.4
36Portland, OR2580843.6
37Grand Rapids, MI73222943.8
38Thornton, CO33584244.8
39Salem, OR13892345.4
40Reno, NV52473045.6
41Irving, TX30458446.8
42Richmond, VA36535847.2
43Columbia, MO54365647.2
44Hampton, VA39408348.2
45Mesquite, TX45573848.4
46Athens-Clarke County, GA72353349.4
47Eugene, OR23843549.8
48Abilene, TX75245550.6
49Lexington, KY46516050.8
50Chesapeake, VA53279751.4
51Seattle, WA3890552.2
52Kent, WA37871452.4
53Norfolk, VA58387553.4
54Austin, TX59622653.6
55Oklahoma City, OK40763653.6
56Arlington, TX66347054.0
57Dallas, TX64494955.0
58Denver, CO43783455.2
59Aurora, CO61662255.2
60Wilmington, NC50449256.0
61Durham, NC56712756.2
62Sioux Falls, SD57487156.2
63Waco, TX62545156.6
64Vancouver, WA63751057.2
65Clarksville, TN683210060.0
66Indianapolis, IN70526461.6
67Charlotte, NC65635261.6
68Fayetteville, NC71702862.0
69Newport News, VA76309862.0
70Tacoma, WA55961262.8
71West Valley, UT51599563.0
72Milwaukee, WI81397963.8
73Des Moines, IA74723966.2
74Columbia, SC49866266.4
75Kansas City, MO84741766.6
76Springfield, MA94505067.6
77Murfreesboro, TN83419067.6
78Corpus Christi, TX79617470.8
79Fargo, ND69609670.8
80Minneapolis, MN67884571.0
81Houston, TX87773171.8
82Lakewood, CO47928672.8
83Amarillo, TX86656573.4
84Knoxville, TN77678875.2
85Greensboro, NC82698777.8
86Albuquerque, NM78934878.0
87Spokane, WA80993278.0
88Rockford, IL95735478.0
89Dayton, OH89688579.8
90Nashville, TN85818282.8
91Detroit, MI97826183.8
92Lubbock, TX88857684.4
93New Haven, CT92798986.2
94Cleveland, OH100915387.0
95Akron, OH96837887.2
96Little Rock, AR99986391.4
97Memphis, TN98948193.0
98Chattanooga, TN91959994.2
99Springfield, MO93979394.6
100Salt Lake City, UT901009494.8

For more information on GoodHire’s research or to request graphics from this study, please contact  

REPORT Methodology

To rank America’s safest cities, GoodHire analyzed FBI Crime Data using the National Incident-Based Reporting System Tables for the 100 largest cities available by population size. The data was analyzed based on property crime, violent crime, and society crime. Each city was ranked by its rate of offenses per 1,000 people for each of the three offense types and was then assigned a total rank which weighted crimes against persons and property at 40% and crimes against society at 20%. The final safety score is a weighted sum of the ranks for the three offense types resulting in the safest city in America receiving the lowest safety score between 1 and 100 and the most unsafe city in America receiving the highest safety score between 1 and 100. 

About GoodHire

GoodHire’s background check platform makes screening easier and more efficient, so you can hire faster. The platform’s integrated compliance features, intuitive workflows, and automated processes help simplify a complex process to give you peace of mind. GoodHire is an accredited, FCRA-compliant employment screening provider. We offer 200+ employment screening services, including:

  • Criminal Background Checks: Using criminal background checks as part of your hiring process helps you assess any risks associated with bringing on someone with a criminal record and make an informed decision—before hiring them. 
  • Driving Record (MVR) Checks: Reviewing your candidate’s driving records and safety data is important for positions where employees, volunteers, or contractors will operate motor vehicles for business purposes. 
  • Employment Verifications: Verifying your candidate’s work history helps you make informed decisions and instills confidence that you’re hiring the most trustworthy, qualified candidates for the positions you need to fill.

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The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

About the Author

As GoodHire’s managing editor, Sara Korolevich produces educational resources for employers on a variety of employment screening topics, including compliance and screening best practices, and writes about GoodHire’s company and product news. Sara’s experience stems from 20+ years working as a B2C and B2B PR and communications professional.