Dana Hinman puts no stock in any of the lists that purport to say which Washington cities are safe and which are dangerous, especially if they come from a company that benefits financially from the fruits of fear and alarm.

After all, she remembers not long ago when the tiny city of Algona, population 3,200 and something, was ranked among the state’s most treacherous locales.

“Algona!” said the director of administration for the city of Auburn in a phone interview this week.

“We’ve started pushing back on these lists where a real estate or home alarm company takes incomplete, voluntarily reported data from the FBI website, puts it through a methodology that seems significant and comes out with something that ranks Algona, or Auburn, as a more dangerous city than Chicago, New York or Seattle,” she said.

If the lists have any real value, said Hinman, it’s that they underscore a nationwide problem: There is no national standard for crime reporting, a problem in a country embroiled in conversations about police reform, crime in cities and use of force by officers.

Even according to the list-makers themselves, Washington is not a hotbed of crime.

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Security company Safewise said in its 2021 list that Washingtonians worry less about violent crimes than the rest of the nation, with package theft being the crime 43% of Washingtonians fear they will experience.

Washington also reports the second-lowest rate of violent crime in the Pacific region, tied with Hawaii at 2.9 incidents per 1,000 and slightly lower than Oregon. Washington reports nearly five fewer violent crimes per capita than Alaska, where 8.7 violent crimes occur per 1,000 people.

While our property crime rate is 27% higher than the national property crime rate of 21.1 incidents per 1,000, Safewise reported, those numbers also fell last year.

Nevertheless, people like lists. They help our brains feel organized and can spark some interesting conversations. So, in that spirit, here are three 2021 lists of Washington’s safest cities.

Safewise:

  • 1. Sammamish
  • 2. Bainbridge Island
  • 3. Camas
  • 4. Lake Forest Park
  • 5. Mercer Island
  • 6. Snoqualmie
  • 7. Maple Valley
  • 8. East Wenatchee
  • 9. Kenmore
  • 10. West Richland

Alarms:

  • 1 Oak Harbor
  • 2. West Richland
  • 3. Camas
  • 4. Snoqualmie
  • 5. Bainbridge Island
  • 6. Pullman
  • 7. Lake Stevens
  • 8. Liberty Lake
  • 9. Enumclaw
  • 10. Grandview

AreaVibes

  • 1. Fort Lewis
  • 2. Bangor base
  • 3. Sammamish
  • 4. Duvall
  • 5. Brier
  • 6. Bainbridge Island
  • 7. Camas
  • 8. West Richland
  • 9. Maple Valley
  • 10. Snoqualmie

Joe Deets, a City Council member for Bainbridge Island, which manages to appear on almost every list of safe cities in Washington, said inclusion is gratifying but not unexpected.

“It is not at all a surprise to me to learn that Bainbridge Island has been included as among Washington’s safest cities. Most visitors and most residents here comment on what a wonderful place this is. Perhaps it is because we live on an island — it helps define us for who we are — that we so often pull together when it matters,” he said in an email.

But, he said, there are still questions about whether Bainbridge Island is safe for everyone. People of color have experienced racism on the island, and young women have dealt with violence from males, he said.

“That we acknowledge these issues is a necessary but not sufficient response,” said Deets. “I am wholly confident that we can make meaningful progress on these issues, for this community has consistently shown its capacity to hit above its weight.”