Reddit never fails to provide interesting advice about Montana.

A recent question on Reddit, sub r/Billings wondered about how safe it is to live in Billings. The poster said she, her husband, and their two small children are relocating to Billings in March. She is originally from Bozeman and the family has been trying to move back to Montana for years.

Initially excited about their upcoming move, the woman noted that she has spent a fair amount of time in Billings in the past for shopping, concerts, and whatnot and never felt unsafe. She wrote,

However, now all I hear is how rough it’s gotten and how dangerous it is, especially with violent crimes. Is this valid? 

She added that she understood the majority of crimes are associated with drug use and/or sale in the Magic City and that a large portion of our transient crime is largely contained among that populace. Her question about Billings was, "Crime - serious concern or exaggeration?"

Credit Canva
Credit Canva
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Is Billings really that dangerous?

As someone who also grew up in Bozeman (and spent time living in Denver and Salt Lake) my thoughts on crime and feeling safe in Billings echo nearly every comment on the thread. Yes, Billings is safe if you don't run around with the wrong crowd. One commenter summed it up,

It’s extremely exaggerated. Worst thing that’ll happen is someone might try to steal your bag out of your car if you leave it in plain view in like the Walmart parking lot or the gym but that’s about the extent of crime I face as a citizen of Billings lol. The crime is mostly druggie vs druggie crime so as long as you stay out of the drug life you won’t really face any crime imo.

When Billings experienced a string of shootings, stabbing, and other violence last summer, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John noted in a press conference that the majority of violent crimes in Billings are committed between individuals and/or groups that are known to each other. An increased gang presence in Billings is partially to blame for the uptick in violence.

Stock photo (not in Billings). Credit Canva
Stock photo (not in Billings). Credit Canva
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Let's compare crime rates in similar-sized cities as Billings.

I randomly picked six US cities with populations between 112,000 and 136,000 (roughly the same populations as Billings) for comparison. Note these figures: Billings has a violent crime rate of 9.9 per 1,000 people, and a property crime rate of 45.07 per 1,000 people annually, per Neighborhood Scout.com

  • Pasadena, CA is safer with violent crime at 3.01 and property crime at 23.95 per 1,000.
  • Coral Springs, FL is safer, with violent crime at 1.21 and property crime at 11.97 per 1,000.
  • Beaumont, TX is about the same as Billings, with violent crime at 10.89 and property crime at 34.18 per 1,000.
  • Cedar Rapids, IA is safer, with violent crime at 3.41 and property crime at 26.78 per 1,000.
  • Provo, UT is safer, with violent crime at 1.20 and property crime at 13.75 per 1,000 people.
  • Ann Arbor, MI is safer, with violent crime at 3.37 and property crime at 17.03 per 1,000 people.
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The data indicates that Billings does have a significantly higher crime rate than many cities of similar size. If you live in Billings, what are your thoughts? Do you feel safe going about your normal day? Reach out on our mobile app chat, drop a comment on Facebook, or send me an email: Michael.Foth@TownsquareMedia.com

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