OWATONNA — The city of Owatonna has been named one of the top 50 safest cities in Minnesota, according to information released Tuesday by a security-based website.

But the city barely made list, coming in at no. 49, with only one city, Woodbury, scoring behind it in the top 50.

Absent from the list were Owatonna’s near neighbors of Faribault, Austin, Albert Lea and Waseca, as were the bigger communities of Rochester and Mankato. North Mankato, however, did make the list, coming in at no. 25. Other nearby communities that made the list were Northfield at no. 17, Kasson at no. 27, St. Peter at no. 28, New Ulm at no. 32 and New Prague at no. 33.

Waseca ranked 51, Rochester 55, Albert Lea 75, Faribault 80, Austin 86 and Mankato 102 out of the 124 cities evaluated.

The website that released the study, Security Baron, analyzed FBI rankings of crime rates from its Uniform Crime Reporting data to determine the safest cities and their “safety scores.” It looked at factors such as the rates of murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson, as well as the ratio of police officers to 1,000 people and the median income of the community.

With a population of 25,810, the city of Owatonna had 10,286 households with a median income of $56,289, according to the report. There were 1.24 violent crimes per 1,000 people and 17.94 property crimes per 1,000, the report said. And, both the violent crime trend and the property crime trend were recorded as declining.

The report also said there is a ratio of 1.38 police officers per 1,000 people in the city.

In all, the numbers when tabulated gave Owatonna a safety score of 78.85 out of a possible 100.

Ranking no. 1 in the study for the community of Big Lake, Minnesota, in Sherburne County, northwest of the Twin Cities and southeast of St. Cloud. By way of comparison, Big Lake, with a population of 10,730 and a median income of $73,500, had a violent crime rate of .09 per 1,000 and a property crime rate of 5.5 per 1,000. Big Lake’s safety score was 88.57.

The metropolitan areas of St. Paul, Duluth and Minneapolis came in toward the bottom of the list at ranks of 112, 118 and 122, respectively. At the very bottom of the list was Bemidji at no. 124 with a safety score of 30.57.

Reach Managing Editor Jeffrey Jackson at 444-2371 or follow him on Twitter @OPPJeffrey.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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