The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
South Dakota’s 10 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 Safest Cities in South Dakota for 2021
8. Hot Springs
9. Belle Fourche
See if your city made the full list.
If you call The Mount Rushmore State home, chances are you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about crime and safety. South Dakota’s level of concern is nearly 30% lower than the rest of the country. For those in the state’s safest cities, that concern might be closer to nil, with crime rates that are about half of what we found statewide.
2021 South Dakota crime rates
South Dakota’s violent crime rate held steady year over year at four incidents per 1,000, but property crime saw a slight rise from 17.3 incidents per 1,000 to 17.7. That keeps South Dakota well below the national property crime rate of 21.1 but slightly higher than the national violent crime rate of 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people.
Comparatively, the property crime rate in South Dakota is nearly 20% lower than the rest of the West North Central region and 16% under the national average.
Violent crime in The Mount Rushmore State is slightly higher than both regional and national averages, but three-year trends show all crime either holding steady or decreasing statewide.
Level of concern and experience with crime in South Dakota
Overall concern about safety fell three percentage points year over year, from 37% in 2020 to 34% this year—making South Dakota 28% less concerned than the rest of the country. On the national scale, South Dakota is the seventh least-concerned state in the country when it comes to general safety and security.
Experience with both violent crime and gun violence rose slightly year over year, while those who had a run-in with property crime dropped from 23% to 22%. South Dakotans are slightly more likely to have an experience with either property or violent crime.
Self-reports of violent crime incidents came in 50% more often than the national average. Property crime experiences were up 22% in The Mount Rushmore State compared to the rest of the country.
Despite more reported experience with crime, a full 73% of survey respondents said they feel safe in South Dakota. That number is 33% higher than the number that feel safe in most other states.
Crime concerns in South Dakota
We asked South Dakota residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if South Dakotans are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.
View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.
Violent crime in South Dakota: Fear vs. reality
Concern about violent crime—and proactive measures to protect oneself—are much lower in South Dakota despite violent crime rates that are consistently higher than the national average.
- The violent crime rate in the safest cities is 1.9 incidents per 1,000 people—about 50% below both national and state averages.
- Reports of rape in the safest cities made up 21% of all violent crimes, compared to 18% statewide.
- Aggravated assault accounts for 76% of all violent crime in South Dakota, and 79% among the safest cities. That puts South Dakota 11% higher than the rest of the country.
- 28% of survey respondents use some type of personal protection like pepper spray (US 34%).
- 41% say their personal safety has been affected by the pandemic (US 44%).
Attitudes about police and gun violence in South Dakota
- 37% named gun violence their top safety concern (US 53%), and South Dakota sees far fewer gun violence incidents than most of the country.
- In 2020, there was one mass shooting incident (none in 2019) and seven officer-involved shooting incidents (one more incident than in 2019) in South Dakota.
- 33% of South Dakota residents are most worried about a gun violence incident happening to them (US 38%), compared to their concern for property crimes, package theft, and other violent crimes.
- 28% of South Dakotans worry about police violence daily—43% lower than the national average of 40%.
- 72% have confidence in law enforcement’s approach to crime prevention—29% higher than the national average of 56%.
Property crime in South Dakota: Fear vs. reality
South Dakota does a good job of keeping property crime rates low. This is the third year that the state reported rates lower than the national average, despite a slight increase this year.
- After falling by 9% in 2020, the property crime rate in South Dakota climbed this year, moving from 17.3 incidents per 1,000 people to 17.7—a 2% rise.
- Regionally, property crime followed national trends and fell slightly from 22.2 to 22.0 year over year.
- Larceny-theft is the most-reported property crime in South Dakota and its safest cities. Among our top 10 cities, larceny-theft accounts of 82% of all property crime—10 percentage points higher than the state allocation of 72%.
- Burglaries are 48% less common in the safest cities than throughout the state.
- 58% of survey participants use some form of property protection (US 62%), with firearms used more often than any other home security measure.
- 25% say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic (US 29%).
A closer look at the Safest Cities in South Dakota
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
- 26 cities met criteria to be considered for ranking.
- Brandon and Lead remain the number 1 and 2 safest cities in South Dakota for the second consecutive year.
- 2 new cities joined the rankings this year: Lennox and Mobridge.
- Half the cities on our list improved their ranking year over year.
- The violent crime rate in the safest cities is 1.9 incidents per 1,000 people—half of state and national averages.
- There were 0 murders reported among the safest cities and only one robbery.
- 90% of the cities on our list reported fewer than 20 total violent crimes. Brookings is the outlier with 54, but it’s also the most populous city on the list.
- The property crime rate in the safest cities is 9.1 incidents per 1,000—53% of the state rate and 43% of the national rate.
- 90% of the cities on our list reported fewer than 100 total property crimes, with Brookings reporting the most at 316. But, due to its larger population, Brookings’s property crime rate is only the third-highest among the safest cities.
How we determined the safest cities
Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Didn't find your city in the top 10?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.
NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.
VC per 1,000
PC per 1,000
|11||North Sioux City||2.93K||2.0||18.8|
Find the safest cities in each state
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Related articles on SafeWise
FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.
Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.
For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.