Idaho isn’t the safest state, but Weiser is America’s safest city


You shouldn't expect to see too much of it blinking if you live in Weiser.

You shouldn’t expect to see too much of it blinking if you live in Weiser.

Getty Images

If you’re like most Idaho residents, the recent Boise Towne Square murders have shocked and horrified you.

And, if your brain is functioning like mine, you immediately started to rationalize.

Mall shooting unthinkable or not, this is Idaho. If we look at the big picture, last week’s tragic aberration must be balanced by the fact that Idaho is still one of the safest places on Earth. Law?

Two new studies offer different perspectives on the safety of life in Gem State.

One, from WalletHub, says Idaho isn’t even close to the safest place to live in the United States. Idaho ranks in the bottom half – a surprising 32nd place – among the “2021 safest states in America”. Ugh. Has our beloved fast growing home finally jumped the safety shark?

Another study, from SafeWise, reveals the “100 Safest Small Towns in America 2021”. Sleep well, Weiser! You are # 1 in the whole nation.

(For you newcomers: Weiser – about 5,000 residents – is about 75 minutes northwest of Boise.)

So what do we do with these two studies? Seemingly disparate images they paint?

First of all, yes: Weiser is super sleepy. Uh, safe. Ask any elk that grazes in the middle of town. We don’t need SafeWise – “the premier online resource for safety and security” – to enlighten us.

In fact, Weiser has competition. “Five cities tied for first place,” says SafeWise, “with zero reported crime: Lewisboro Town, New York; Luzerne Township, Pennsylvania; Sleepy Hollow Village, New York; the Township of Thetford, Michigan; and Weiser, Idaho.

We will take this tie. Of course, you could be accosted by a bunch of violin players if you mess up Weiser Alley in late June. But Weiser’s overall security is well documented. When SafeWise released a ranking of “Idaho’s 10 Safest Cities” six months ago, Weiser – around 5,000 residents – also topped that list.

Idaho has no other small towns rated in the nation’s top 100. Nevertheless, it is an honor. As SafeWise points out, “this is an elite ranking – 32 states had no cities on the list.”

elk ball
A male elk crosses the baseball field at Weiser Memorial Park. Chadd Cripe [email protected]

WalletHub, however, doesn’t seem overly impressed.

When it comes to all over Idaho, it’s not Weiser – watch your back, apparently.

A personal finance website that generates data-driven rankings of everything that happens under the sun, WalletHub views security through a wide-angle lens. It is not just a lack of crime.

WalletHub used 55 variables grouped into five categories to compare the 50 states. “Our data set ranges from the percentage of residents fully vaccinated,” WalletHub explains, “to assaults per capita and the unemployment rate.”

Phew, the vaccines? No wonder Idaho slipped on this list.

In WalletHub’s ranking, Vermont is the safest state. Louisiana is the least secure. (To add insult to injury, our prudish neighbor Utah is the fifth safest state.)

Here are the top five categories and where Idaho finished: personal and home security (38th), financial security (30th), road safety (19th), workplace safety (46th) and emergency preparedness (16th).

Uh, 46th safe at work? With so many people working from home, do we stumble on the way to the refrigerator?

On the other hand, a strong 16th in emergency preparedness seems right, if not maybe a little weak. Thanks, Northern Idaho Preparers!

Idaho’s not-so-hot ranking in the WalletHub study probably shouldn’t be of much concern to us. When it comes to safety, Idaho residents normally ignore criteria such as “share of uninsured drivers” or “number of weather disasters causing more than $ 1 billion in damage over the past decades.”

But we shouldn’t leave our doors unlocked either.

Idaho is changing rapidly, often faster than we can control. And nothing ever feels safe about an unknown future.

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Entertainment writer and opinion columnist Michael Deeds chronicles the good life in Boise: restaurants, concerts, culture, cool stuff. Deeds came to fruition at the Idaho Statesman as an intern in 1991 before taking on roles such as sports writer, editor, and music critic. Over the years, his freelance work has ranged from writing album reviews for The Washington Post to advertising Boise in the airline magazine you left on the plane. Deeds holds a BA in Editorial Journalism from the University of Nebraska.

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