Billings, Montana is well-known for its breathtaking natural scenery, diverse wildlife, and abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. However, despite its many attractions, Billings is not without its share of safety concerns. In fact, according to the latest FBI crime statistics, Billings has been identified as the most crime-prone city in the state, with rates of violent and property crimes exceeding national averages. So, what sets Billings apart in terms of its crime rate? Let’s take a closer look.
Billings: The Most Dangerous City in Montana
With a population of 117,445, Billings is the biggest city in Montana and unfortunately, also the highest crime area in the state. Its crime rate of 55 incidents per 1,000 residents is a cause of concern, making it one of the riskier urban areas in the country. Shockingly, the likelihood of experiencing a crime in Billings is 1 in 18, which is a worrying statistic for both locals and tourists.
The city of Billings is known to have one of the highest rates of violent crimes in the United States. Shockingly, the chances of becoming a victim of crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, manslaughter, or aggravated assault in Billings are 1 in 101. According to the 2019 crime report, Billings witnessed a total of 1,177 violent crimes, which includes 10 murders, 121 rapes, 224 robberies, and 822 aggravated assaults. These statistics are a cause of concern for the residents of Billings and the authorities must take necessary steps to curb this alarming trend.
Interestingly, when it comes to crime in Billings, property crimes take the lead, with a staggering 1 in 22 chance of being a victim. This translates to a rate of 46 per one thousand population, which is higher than the national average of 19.6. Property crimes in Billings range from larceny, car theft, arson, to burglary. Shockingly, in 2019, Billings alone reported a total of 5,386 property crimes, which includes 1,006 burglaries, 3,512 larcenies, and 868 motor vehicle thefts.
Factors Contributing to High Crime Rate in Billings
Billings’ high crime rate is influenced by various factors, which include:
- Population Growth: Rapid population growth in Billings results from economic opportunities and a high quality of life. However, this surge in residents can give rise to social conflicts and issues related to limited resources and services.
- Drug Trafficking: Billings has turned into a distribution and consumption hub for drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl due to its strategic location along major drug trafficking routes (Interstate 90 and Interstate 94) from Mexico and Canada. Drug addiction and abuse frequently fuel violent and property crimes.
- Gang Activity: Gang-related violence has surged in Billings, primarily driven by Native American gangs such as the Native Syndicate and the Indian Posse. These gangs engage in activities like drug trafficking, robbery, assault, and murder, often targeting rival gangs and innocent bystanders.
- Lack of Law Enforcement: Billings faces a shortage of police officers and resources to combat the rising crime rate. With just about 150 sworn officers serving a population of over 100,000, the city encounters challenges such as inadequate patrols, investigations, arrests, and prosecutions. Factors like low morale, high turnover, and budget cuts further exacerbate the situation.
Billings is known for its various attractions and advantages, but it is also grappling with a significant challenge – an alarmingly high crime rate. According to FBI statistics, it is Montana’s city with the highest crime rate, with both violent and property crimes exceeding national averages. To address this issue, it is crucial for different stakeholders, including the police department, city government, community organizations, and citizens to collaborate and coordinate their efforts. By working together, Billings can tackle the underlying causes and effects of crime and transform into a safer and more pleasant place for everyone.