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Crime Watch: How do Montana's largest cities rank?

Billings is the least safe of the six largest cities
Posted: 12:57 PM, Aug 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-29 14:34:45-04
FBI crime stats used to rank Montana's safest large cities

Billings is the least safe of the six of the largest cities in Montana, according to a new survey based on FBI crime statistics.

The website BackgroundChecks announced the results of a survey it recently conducted in a press release issued Tuesday.

The survey found that Montana ranks around the middle of the pack among U.S. states in terms of safety: 31st in property crime and 29th in smaller crime.

"Many of Montana’s smaller communities (population < 10,000) have rather low crime rates, though in computing our Safety Index scores, we eliminated cities below 10K in population from consideration, leaving the six larger Montana communities, which did not perform as well," the release states.

Kalispell and Bozeman tied for the state's safest city, each earning a "Safety Index" score of -0.17, the survey states.

Great Falls came in third place with a score of -0.6, while Missoula scored -0.74 to place fourth and Helena took fifth with a score of -0.85.

Billings scored -0.97 on the survey.

The website states it used the most recent FBI crime statistics to create state and city rankings.

"There were initially 7,430 cities in the data set. After filtering out the cities with populations of less than 10,000, 2,929 cities remained. We then calculated violent crime rates and property crime rates by dividing the crime numbers by the population to get rates per 1,000. We also calculated the ratio of law enforcement workers to per 1,000. These were weighted with -50% for the violent crime rate, -25% for the property crime rate, and +25% for the law enforcement rate. The resulting metric gave us a the safety index score. The higher this number more safe the city is."

NOTE: The organization that provided this information to MTN News did not include Butte in its rankings, although Butte's population of more than 30,000 exceeds the threshold for inclusion. We have tried to contact the organization for clarification and will post an update if we receive a reply.

UPDATE: The organization provided this response: "Unfortunately, Butte didn't make it into our ranking, most likely due to lacking one of the requisite metrics for ranking."