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By Archie Ingersoll, Published March 06 2014

Fargo ranks better than most similar-sized cities when it comes to crime

FARGO – Often touted as a peaceful place to live, Fargo ranks better than most U.S. cities of similar size when it comes to crime rates.

“Fargo is an incredibly safe and healthy community,” Police Chief Keith Ternes said of the city of 109,000 people. “But do we have crime issues here? Yeah, and as the city continues to grow, are those challenges going to increase? Undoubtedly.”

According to FBI data from 2012, the most recent year available, the city had 358.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. This number made Fargo the 121st highest out of 213 cities with populations of 100,000 to 250,000.

When it came to property crimes, there were 2,581.7 per 100,000 residents. This figure put Fargo at 153rd compared with the other cities.

Of the specific crimes tracked by the FBI, Fargo’s lowest rate was in the robbery category. With 41.9 holdups per 100,000 residents, Fargo was 189th.

In one statistical column, the city tallied one of the higher rates in 2012.

According to FBI data, there were 62.8 rapes per 100,000 residents. This tied Fargo with Erie, Pa., for 21st highest among cities in the same population range.

In response to those numbers, Ternes said Fargo does not have a sexual assault problem that should alarm residents. He said he believes the statistics are due partly to victims being less reluctant to report rapes here than elsewhere.

“That’s not to say that there isn’t a concern there; one rape victim is too many,” he said.

In general, Ternes cautioned against comparing Fargo to other cities because of the many variables that contribute to crime, including the economic health of a community.

In regards to solving crimes, Ternes described his department’s clearance rates as exceptional. In 2012 and 2013, detectives solved all five homicide cases, earning a 100 percent clearance rate compared with the 2012 national average of 62.5 percent, according to police.

When investigating rape cases, the department’s clearance rate slipped 30 percent in 2013 compared with 2012.

“That’s not for lack of effort on the part of the detectives,” Ternes said. “In some cases, it’s because the information that we receive from some victims really doesn’t allow us to further a successful investigation.”

Out of 213 cities with populations of 100,000 to 250,000, Fargo had:

-62.8 rapes per 100,000 residents. This tied Fargo with Erie, Pa., for 21st highest.

-252.2 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents. Fargo was 105th highest.

-2029.8 larceny thefts per 100,000 residents. Fargo was 121st highest.

-1.8 murders per 100,000 residents. Fargo tied for 144th highest with four other cities, including Rochester, Minn.

-141.1 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents. Fargo tied with Grand Rapids, Mich., for 160th highest.

-410.7 burglaries per 100,000 residents. Fargo ranked 175th highest.

-41.9 robberies per 100,000 residents. Fargo was 189th highest.

Source: 2012 FBI statistics


Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734