How Do We Pick the Safest Cities? Our Rankings Demystified Leave a comment

In addition to city rankings for 2021, we also conducted our third annual nationwide survey to find out Americans’ top safety concerns. Over the past three years, we’ve polled more than 15,000 Americans about their attitudes and perceptions around safety and crime.

We added these correlations and other useful findings to our safest cities reports.

The State of Safety study used a 10-minute online survey that was fielded in August and September 2020. We spoke to 5,026 respondents across the US; at least 100 from every state. Responses were weighted for population. Based on the number of completions, the margin of error is ±1.4%.

The State of Safety survey asked participants to rate how concerned they were about each crime and safety issue using a scale from one to seven. One was “not at all concerned” and seven was “highly concerned.” For comparison and ranking purposes, responses were grouped into three ranges:

  • Responses marked 7, 6, or 5 indicated high concern.
  • Responses marked 4 were considered neutral.
  • Responses marked 3, 2, or 1 indicated low concern.

We first looked at the number of respondents who indicated high concern about their general safety and security on a daily basis. This gave us a baseline for the overall level of concern across the US and state by state.

From there, we compared responses from each state to see which safety concerns and crime issues had the highest and lowest levels of concern. We asked which safety concerns respondents worry about on a daily basis, as well as their concern about falling victim to different types of crime.

We also asked respondents what (if any) safety and security precautions they use to protect themselves and their property.

For the second time in the history of our report, we asked survey participants about their perceptions of and concern about gun violence. In the 2020 State of Safety survey, we singled out mass shootings. This year, we explored gun violence as a whole—based on many spontaneous answers in unaided questions last year that indicated high concern in this broader area.

In an effort to respond to timely events, we also asked survey participants about their perceptions of and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and police violence.

To find out what safety and crime issues people are most worried about, read the complete State of Safety report.

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