Story City among 30 Safest Cities in Iowa

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
Story City among 30 Safest Cities in Iowa

(Recently released its report on the 30 Safest Cities in Iowa. Story City was one of those 30 and ranked number 24 on the list. The complete report including all 30 cities follows:)

When you’re considering a move, it is vital that you settle in a community with a reputation for safety and low crime. Weighing all the considerations can be confusing and it’s hard to know what data you can rely on. To help ease your mind and make choosing a safe location simple, SafeWise compiled a list of the top 30 safest cities in Iowa.

To identify the safest communities, we used strict reporting standards and population criteria, along with the FBI’s most recent crime data from 2012. To be considered, each city had to have reported every element of their crime data in 2012, which gave us 106 cities to start with. From there, we narrowed it down to 96 cities with populations over 2,500 residents.

Those 96 cities were evaluated based on the number of reported violent and property crimes. Violent crimes considered included murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The property crimes reviewed were arson, larceny-theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Finally, we calculated the chance out of 1,000 you’d have of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in each city. That leveled the playing field and helped us identify the safest places to move your family or business in Iowa.

But our commitment to your safety doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve identified the perfect Iowa city to call home, you’ll want to make sure you do everything you can to preserve the health and well-being of your loved ones. Find all the security and safety resources you need to protect what matters most at our Iowa Safety Directory. Now, it’s time to get started finding your ideal safe community in Iowa.

1. Bloomfield

With a total of only six crimes reported in 2012, it’s easy to see why Bloomfield is our number one safest city in the great state of Iowa. The county seat of Davis County, and considered Iowa’s “best kept secret,” this friendly community has plenty to offer residents and visitors. County fairs, farmers markets, and an annual Country and Old Time Music Festival each fall keeps this city connected to each other and their roots.

The rural setting also offers plenty of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, including abundant opportunities for hunting and fishing. But when they’re not having a good time or enjoying the bounty of their surroundings, Bloomfield citizens can be found at the monthly Coffee with the Mayor gathering, working with city officials, to make sure their city remains a great place to call home. Bloomfield is the safest city in Iowa! Check the list to see if your hometown made the cut.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.00

Property Crimes per 1,000: 2.25

2. Grundy Center

Walking downtown in Grundy Center, you’ll find yourself surrounded by picturesque 19th century architecture and friendly, welcoming faces. This town of just over 2,700 residents knows how to do a city right. When great schools meet tidy, green parks, a community is strengthened. From recreational activities like swimming and golfing to cultural hubs like the Center Theatre and Historical Museum, residents of Grundy Center can attest to fulfilling the town’s motto, “Living the good life.”

Although Grundy Center is small, there is never too little to do. The George E. Wilhelm Sports Complex and Grundy Center Aquatic Center keep residents happy by keeping them active. Adventure seekers can hike along the 12-mile Pioneer Trail and every summer the town comes together for the Felix Grundy Days Festival. This active community reported only one violent crime and nine property crimes in 2012. Such a clean safety record can only come from a vibrant, supportive community

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.36

Property Crimes per 1,000: 3.31

3. Marengo

This safe city is nestled in the Iowa River Valley, and residents have plenty of reasons to be proud they call Marengo home. Miles of trails, lush parks, and plenty of waterfront make this town a hiking and fishing dream come true. Just 30 miles from the bustling city of Cedar Rapids, Marengo offers a calm sanctuary from the hectic pace of the city.

But don’t think that this small town doesn’t have the amenities to satisfy big city appetites. In fact, one of the most famous restaurants in the state, P.H.A.T. Daddy’s, is owned and operated right in the heart of Marengo. In addition to top-rate dining and shopping, residents and visitors also enjoy hitting the links at the Marengo Ridge Golf Club, which was given a 4.5 star rating by “Golf Digest.”

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.57

Property Crimes per 1,000: 3.94

4. Emmetsburg

Like many Iowa towns, Emmetsburg has strong ties to Ireland. Emmetsburg’s connection, however, goes deeper than most. Named after an Irish patriot who was executed for his efforts in Ireland’s fight for independence from the English government, Emmetsburg honors its heritage with an extravagant three-day St. Patrick’s Day festival every year. To further the city’s connection to its roots, Dublin, Ireland and Emmetsburg became “Sister Cities” in 1962.

Although Emmetsburg remains a small-town community, its latest claim to fame is the construction of Poet Energy’s first ever commercial cellulosic refinery. The venture has gained Emmetsburg attention from the U.S. Department of Energy and has made it possible for Emmetsburg to expand its community college and add several new eating establishments. Despite all the growth and attention, this beautiful lakeside community still makes its citizens the first priority.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.78

Property Crimes per 1,000: 4.08

5. Hampton

Historic architecture and meandering tree-lined streets welcome you to the safe city of Hampton. No matter the season, this quaint community brings to mind traditional Americana and makes everyone feel instantly at home. And whether it’s the great outdoors or American history, Hampton has a little something for everyone.

History buffs can learn about the city’s rich heritage at the Civil War Memorial Hall, which was built to honor Civil War veterans and showcases five gorgeous stained glass windows in addition to honorary plaques. Just two miles north of town, families can enjoy an afternoon picnic or a weekend camping trip at Beeds Lake State Park. But wherever your Hampton adventures lead, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will be safe from harm in this safe community that had fewer than 30 total crimes reported in 2012.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.33

Property Crimes per 1,000: 4.88

6. Denison

Denison’s safe city ranking is impressive considering it is home to almost 8,500 residents. One of this city’s keys to success is empowering civilians, along with the men and women of the local police department, to be vigilant when it comes to crime prevention. This cooperative philosophy combined with Denison’s avid drug awareness programs, like D.A.R.E. and drug abuse counseling, help the police department prevent crime and protect the community.

While walking through the safe streets of Denison, one will find an abundance of things to do. Catch a race at the recently renovated Crawford County Speedway or wander downtown to the Donna Reed Performing Arts Center and Museum for some theatre. Whatever your hobbies are, Denison has something to suit your fancy.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.83

Property Crimes per 1,000: 5.46

7. Jefferson

This vibrant farming community, located along the banks of the North Raccoon River, is a great place to raise a family. Jefferson offers excellent schools and quality healthcare, and is the kind of town where traditional values and family activities come first. The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower is one of the city’s top attractions. Standing 168 feet high, the tower gives visitors a breathtaking view of the countryside of five counties from its glass elevator and observation deck.

One thing you won’t see from the 120-foot high observation deck is a crime spree. Jefferson was completely free of murder, arson, forcible rape, and robbery in 2012, with no incidences reported. In fact, the Jefferson Police Department reports that only 25 percent of its calls are related to criminal activity. Most calls are related to public service, allowing these dedicated officers to devote the majority of their time to maintaining and enhancing the high quality of life that Jefferson residents and visitors enjoy.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.46

Property Crimes per 1,000: 6.22

8. Le Claire

Le Claire is an active city with a lot to offer. Birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody, Le Claire houses the Buffalo Bill Museum. The city’s vibrant antiques market has inspired two television shows on the History Channel. Those looking to wet their whistle can head on over to the Mississippi River Distilling Company and each year the town fills up with people looking to compete in Tugfest, the ultimate tug-of-war across the Mississippi River.

Exciting activities and sightseeing isn’t all this historic city has to offer. Le Claire reported zero counts of murder, forcible rape, robbery, or motor vehicle theft in 2012. The safe streets of La Claire owe some of their gratitude to the active 20-member volunteer fire department that graciously gives its time to serving and protecting Le Claire streets.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.09

Property Crimes per 1,000: 4.70

9. Humboldt

City founder Stephen Harris Taft knew what he was doing when it came to building a lasting community that would thrive and grow. Humboldt’s founder had five goals for an ideal city, including that the town would be surrounded by trees and forests, would have the moral fortitude of solid church and good schools, and that it would be a town of thinkers and beauty. With those lofty standards, Taft set out to transform a sprawling prairie into what is now the vibrant city of Humboldt.

Today, Humboldt is home to around 4,700 residents who enjoy the city’s 12 parks, various walking trails, and thriving economy. In a time where some towns are struggling, Humboldt continues to grow as families and businesses are attracted to this safe, friendly community. Despite growth of more than five percent since 2010, this city still kept criminal activity to a minimum in 2012, with only two violent crimes reported. It seems Taft’s dream of a safe, prosperous town has been brought to life on the clean, wide streets of Humboldt.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.42

Property Crimes per 1,000: 6.80

10. Carlisle

This homey community provides the comforts of a small town with the adventures of a big city. Just minutes from urban Des Moines, residents of Carlisle can enjoy the hustle of a city while still being able to escape back into their country home. Tucked between rolling hills and river valleys, this woodland village strives to make everyone feel at home.

Carlisle maintains its small-town charm by providing numerous community events, such as the Fire Department Pancake Breakfast and town parties at the Carlisle Public Library. Another town priority is staying active, whether that means going for a bike ride along the Summerset Trail or participating in a community soccer team. Residents of Carlisle truly get to experience the best of both worlds.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.76

Property Crimes per 1,000: 7.37

11. Hawarden

Forged in what was considered wild land, Hawarden owes its beginnings and longevity to a river and a railroad. The town’s first settlement was in a dugout next to the Big Sioux River, and grew from there to a vibrant stop for the Northwestern Railroad. Early glimpses of the community spirit that endures to this day were seen during the ice harvests that became a foundation of the city’s economy in the late 1800s and persisted until 1951.

Whether gathering together to pull ice from the river or joining in the fun at the annual Big Sioux River Days festival, Hawarden is a place where young and old can relax and enjoy each other in peace. In fact, Hawarden takes such care with its citizens and visitors that there were just 21 total crimes reported for 2012 – and there were absolutely no forcible rapes, murders or robberies.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.77

Property Crimes per 1,000: 7.38

12. Polk City

One look at Polk City and you can see this town loves to have a good time. Polk City is home to many local festivals, including the Fall Festival, Americana Festival, and Four Seasons Arts Festival. These community events create a fun atmosphere for children to play, families to mingle, and ideas to be shared.

The Polk City community is full of outstanding members that are continuously receiving mention for their efforts. A Polk City Senior Patrol Officer was recently honored with the Heart Saver Award from the America Heart Association for saving a resident’s life after a heart attack. Another Polk City resident was recognized as an Outstanding Civic Leader by the Iowa Urban Tree Council for his efforts in protecting Polk City’s wilderness. These upstanding community members demonstrate the quality of a city that knows how to bring people together.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.00

Property Crimes per 1,000: 8.89

13. Cresco

Known as Iowa’s year-round playground, this friendly city will keep you on the go. No matter the season, Cresco offers endless ways to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding this northeastern Iowa town. From cross country skiing and snowmobiling to camping, hunting, and fishing, residents and visitors.

But not all the fun in Cresco is outside. This safe city is also home to the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame, where Iowa’s greatest wrestlers and coaches have been honored since 1970. And Cresco Community Theatre gives residents a taste of culture with productions featuring both famous plays and locally-penned shows. From connecting with nature to a glimpse of Broadway glamour, it’s easy to see why Cresco residents enjoy calling this diverse city home.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.00

Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.27

14. Eldridge

Eldridge is a city looking to grow. Its strategic location on Highway 61 puts the city between a number of urban centers, making it ideal for families and young professionals alike. Eldridge has the lowest property taxes of any large city in the county, encouraging people to put down roots. The Chamber of Commerce not only supports homeowners, but local entrepreneurs as well. The Chamber hosts events like their big “Buy Local” campaign to help small businesses grow.

This ambitious town isn’t letting its growing population define its community safety. With zero incidents of murder, forcible rape, or robbery and only one case of motor vehicle theft reported in 2012, Eldridge is maintaining a safe, small-town atmosphere. Eldridge is determined to help its economy and families grow, not its crime rates.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.39

Property Crimes per 1,000: 8.01

15. North Liberty

This thriving town was named one of the Best Places to Live by “Money Magazine,” and no doubt its impressive safety record helped North Liberty gain that recognition. There were no murders or robberies reported in 2012, and your chance of becoming victim to either violent or property crime on North Liberty’s city streets is less than seven in 1,000.

Efforts of citizens and local law enforcement contribute to the low incidence of crime in North Liberty. Civic pride is evident in projects like a new community garden sponsored by the North Liberty Community Pantry. Donations are currently being collected to help get the 9,600 square-foot teaching garden underway. The garden will provide health food to low-income families at no charge, and will help to promote healthy eating for all of North Liberty.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.44

Property Crimes per 1,000: 6.36

16. Clarion

Clarion is a rural city in the heart of Iowa with a rich railroad history. The city documents its town’s defining features in the Heartland and Rock Island Depot Railroad Museums where visitors can learn about Clarion’s rich farming history, artist teddy bear legacy, and historic depot.

Residents of Clarion take advantage of the bountiful recreation opportunities the area presents. The local Country Club has a beautiful, regulation nine-hole golf course and Lake Cornelia keeps residents active year-round. Home to Clarion’s Fourth of July celebration and Winter Festival, residents enjoy Lake Cornelia’s treed banks and glassy waters no matter what time of year it is.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.12

Property Crimes per 1,000: 8.13

17. Orange City

“Color Your Life Vibrant” is the motto of Orange City, one of five Iowa cities to be named an “All-Star Community” by the Iowa League of Cities. Cities are selected based on efforts for urban renewal, historic preservation, and quality of life improvements. Orange City is known for the distinctive windmills that dot its landscape, paying homage to the city’s rich Dutch heritage.

Several events throughout the year celebrate Orange City’s roots, including a three-day Tulip Festival every spring and the Sinterklaas Day celebration each December where kids of all ages gather to welcome the Dutch “Santa” as he arrives on his noble, white steed. Certainly this safe city has more residents on the nice list, given the low rate of crime. In fact, there were only six violent crimes reported here in all of 2012.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.99

Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.57

18. Waukee

The second largest city on our list, over 14,500 people call Waukee home. And there couldn’t be a better place to live. Waukee’s community involvement is what defines this city amongst the other urban centers in Iowa. From an annual Haunted House that helps to raise over 100 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Waukee Food Pantry to declaring November Pancreatic Awareness Month, this town is always looking to better itself by helping others.

The community involvement doesn’t stop with the Waukee Police Department. A number of community groups, such as Crimestoppers, Neighborhood Watch, and the Senior TRIAD Program, create a space for citizens and law enforcement to work together and protect Waukee streets. Clearly these programs are working, as 2012 has no reported incidents of robbery, forcible rape, or murder.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.61

Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.97

19. New Hampton

Declared the “City of Expanding Horizons” by its proud citizens, New Hampton offers a low cost of living, excellent schools, a strong business community, and active youth and adult recreation programs. This quaint city is the perfect picture of small-town America with historic downtown buildings, quaint lampposts, and lush, rolling farmlands.

And the people who call New Hampton home only add to the comfortable, nostalgic feeling. These friends and neighbors care about keeping their town safe, and along with the hard-working officers of the New Hampton Police Department this town was able to limit violent crime to just two reported incidents in 2012. That’s the kind of track record that keeps bringing new residents and businesses to this charming city.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.55

Property Crimes per 1,000: 10.03

20. Decorah

Decorah has been named one of “Midwest Living” magazine’s top small town getaways, and for good reason. There is never a shortage of things to do in this small town, whether you’re a foodie, adventure seeker, or just enjoy beautiful scenery.

Newcomers to Decorah might enjoy a peaceful Sunday brunch at the rustic Winneshiek Wildberry Winery. Residents and visitors alike can spend a day canoeing, tubing, or kayaking down the Upper Iowa River. Those in Decorah during the winter months might try their hand at ice fishing on Lake Meyer. No matter what time of year it is, whether you’re a long-time Decorah resident or first-time visitor, there is always plenty to enjoy in this rural city.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.73

Property Crimes per 1,000: 10.06

21. Algona

Founded by two brothers, this city has always valued family. Algona is a place where neighbors look out for one another and everyone enjoys the growing average household income rate, which increased by 45.42 percent since 2000. The economic prosperity puts Algona residents in the mood to have some fun – and there are plenty of ways to do that in this tree-lined city.

Algona offers a variety of events all year round including a Craft Beerfest, annual Founder’s Day celebration, and even the Frostbite Olympics in the winter. But it’s not all fun and games in Algona. The local police and fire departments work tirelessly to keep both residents and visitors from harm. In fact, Algona Fire Chief Chuck Bell was recently honored with the Roger W. Mooty Memorial Award for his efforts providing fire safety training in Algona and throughout the state.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.80

Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.04

22. Eagle Grove

Not located near a major highway, Eagle Grove provides a truly peaceful, small-town experience. Eagle Grove residents are proud of their friendly city and work tirelessly to improve the standard of living for e everyone who calls Eagle Grove home. From the construction of a new city pool to creating a comprehensive city improvement plan, this rural community is striving to become the best small town in Iowa.

One impressive step forward is Eagle Grove’s mission to provide ChromeBooks or iPads to all students grades five through 12. This move is consistent with Eagle Grove’s initiative to grow its youth population and empower the young people of this remote city.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.09

Property Crimes per 1,000: 7.88

23. Hiawatha

This safe city may only be 64 years old, but that doesn’t mean this community isn’t just as strong as its older neighbors. Fay Clark founded Hiawatha in 1950 and Fay believed in helping young people get a start in life and also helped several veterans get their own place to call home after World War II.

That altruistic spirit endures today in active community programs, like the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP). HACAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making stronger, healthier communities by improving the quality of life and removing barriers to self-sufficiency. Hiawatha is a place where all members of the community are cared for, making it a great place to grow, work, and live.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.42

Property Crimes per 1,000: 10.78

24. Story City

Story City has a rich downtown history that will excite everyone who visits. Take a ride on the historic 1913 antique carousel in picturesque North Park or catch a show at the Story Theatre and Grand Opera House. This is the oldest operating theater in Iowa and full of movie magic and performing arts history. No matter where you go downtown, you’ll have glimpses into Story City’s past.

But, there is more to Story City than its vibrant downtown area. According to the FBI’s most recent crime statistics, the town reported zero acts of violent crime or arson in 2012. Part of Story City’s success in protecting its citizens is the active fire department that continuously excels in everything it does, including winning the state-wide Fight for Air climb two years in a row. This success is typical of the strong citizens that inhabit Story City.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.00

Property Crimes per 1,000: 11.30

25. Tipton

Nestled in the midst of metropolitan Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities, Tipton is a quaint refuge from the busy big cities that surround it. Charming details from the original town clock to the revitalized historic downtown area make you feel protected from the hectic pace of modern living. And that’s not all you’ll be protected from in Tipton. This city is proud of its safe, friendly neighborhoods where your chance of falling victim to a violent crime is just one in 1,000.

The Cedar County Sheriff’s Office works in partnership with the Tipton Police Department to make sure that stellar safety record remains untarnished. Augmenting those services are a robust ambulance service and fire department, both of which rely on active volunteers to ensure that their agencies can remain on-call and ready to assist the town of Tipton day and night, 365 days per year.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.24

Property Crimes per 1,000: 10.26

26. Norwalk

Recently dubbed the “Best Affordable Suburb” in Iowa by “Business Week,” Norwalk’s quality of living is unbeatable. Not only does Norwalk have one of the lowest costs of living in the state, it also has an active police department that works to create a safe and happy community.

Some recent efforts include the Norwalk Police Department’s Child Passenger Safety Week, Lunch in the Park event that gives back to citizens in need, and Cyber Bullying Prevention program devoted to stopping cyber bullying for good. To help bolster some of these community programs, Norwalk recently received a $10,000 Community Betterment Grant from Prairie Meadows to continue to grow and improve the Norwalk area.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.32

Property Crimes per 1,000: 11.34

27. Johnston

Residents of Johnston won’t be surprised to find their city on our list. According to a 2013 community survey, Johnston ranks 20 percent higher than the national average when it comes to citizens feeling safe in the city. They also ranked the quality of their police department 16 percent higher than the national average, and 90 percent of residents said they are satisfied with the efforts of local law enforcement.

But Johnston citizens don’t leave everything up to the police. There are a number of active neighborhood associations that work to maintain the appearance, safety, and cleanliness of their city streets. The whole town gathers at the library each June for Green Days to celebrate the area’s rich horticultural and agricultural heritage. In addition to learning from local nurseries and green houses, young and old enjoy a carnival, parade, and tasty local eats.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.02

Property Crimes per 1,000: 11.80

28. Forest City

Home to Waldorf College, Forest City is full of motivated youngsters and creative endeavors. The small, private liberal arts college brings myriad talented students to the area with passions for visual and performing arts. On any given night, one can wander through campus to catch a show at the Waldorf College Theatre or stroll through the Waldorf College Art Gallery for a taste of modern and classical art creations.

Forest City is a small town with comprehensive amenities. The town’s size of just over 4,000 residents allows the community to be tight-knit and intimate without sacrificing a rich business community. With a number of building incentives and projects currently underway, business development in Forest City will continue to nurture this city that residents love to call home.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.93

Property Crimes per 1,000: 11.34

29. Carroll

Begun as a railroad town, Carroll ultimately became the county seat of Carroll County and is known today as one of Iowa’s most progressive communities. Millions of dollars from both private and public sources has been invested in Carroll to establish exceptional educational and business facilities.

The town slogan is “It’s All Here,” and from golf courses, a strong community college, a thriving business district, and verdant landscapes, it’s easy to believe. Residents and visitors find a dynamic city that offers a high quality of life, beautiful architecture, and the outdoor playgrounds of two nearby state parks. Combine the big-city amenities with the small-town atmosphere, and it’s no wonder Carroll is one of the most sought-after places to raise a family in Iowa.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.78

Property Crimes per 1,000: 12.78

30. DeWitt

DeWitt, like many Iowa communities, is a growing city full of friendly neighbors. In an effort to protect the city’s more than 5,000 residents, the DeWitt Police Department takes part in a number of initiatives aimed at crime management and prevention. Some of these programs include the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and National Night Out. The police department also benefits the community with an annual scholarship for local high school students.

Besides a safe community, DeWitt also has a multitude of recreation opportunities to offer. DeWitt’s Parks and Recreation Department organizes various community clubs to keep parents and children active, including Parent Tot Swim and Mother Son Date Night. It’s clear that DeWitt is dedicated to creating a wholesome and connected community.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.62

Property Crimes per 1,000: 11.44