Missouri : Safety by City
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Ferguson, Missouri, is part of the St. Louis metro area known as North County.
People not familiar with St. Louis likely first heard of Ferguson during the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in 2014.
The shooting and subsequent dismissal of any possible indictment against the officer led to riots that made global headlines.
True crime fans might recognize the city’s name as it was the hometown of Maury Travis, a serial killer.
We’re not off to a good start in Ferguson, are we?
Ferguson is not a traditional stop for tourists in “The Lou.”
It’s a primarily residential area with a working-class base and a poverty rate of 26%.
The national rate is 11%.
It’s a small part of St. Louis County with 18,000 residents.
It is close to the airport, which is why some of you might be looking into this city.
Warnings & Dangers in Ferguson
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with crime rates that are going in the wrong direction over an extended period of time. Mixed with few safe spaces to visit, there isn't much of a reason to come here unless you are visiting friends or family.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Metro Bus system covers Ferguson, but it goes through some dangerous parts of town. It's not the safest option. Taxis and rideshares are available, and you can easily get a rental car at the airport or throughout several locations in the St. Louis area.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Theft is a huge problem here, but only an average of four pickpockets have happened each year over the past five years. 44% of all thefts are related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts. Shoplifting is another problem, with some issues happening in dramatic fashion in local stores over the past year.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Severe weather risk starts in spring, with tornadoes being the most serious event that can happen. Big winter storms can happen, but there won't always be snow on the ground. Ice storms are another possibility. Earthquakes from the New Madrid fault line are the only risks that don't come with plenty of warning.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, with 32% of robberies happening in public places, but the only bright side is that 92% of the robberies didn't involve injuries. If you are confronted by someone here, don't fight back.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
St. Louis is a larger metro region, so it comes with a medium risk that is more to prepare people to pay attention to their surroundings and report suspicious activity. Even the iconic St. Louis arch comes with a lot of security from local and federal officers.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
ATM and credit card theft are the biggest fraud risks here, and you don't want to use ATMs in this part of town or use a gas station if you can avoid it, especially at night.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Statistically, men are more likely to be a victim of violent crime in Ferguson. Unless you are visiting someone who lives here, this isn't a part of town you want to be in, even if you're with a friend.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The city of St. Louis provides water in Ferguson, and the 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The city hasn't had a violation ever.
Safest Places to Visit in Ferguson
Ferguson doesn’t have a tourist site, as it’s not really a tourist destination.
Explore St. Louis is the name of the official site for the metro area.
You can also visit the city’s website and look at the Explore Ferguson site to see local and regional events and attractions.
Ferguson has a Citywalk, which is a historic area with some restaurants, community centers, and stores, but don’t expect it to be very robust.
There’s a brewery too, and some parks.
The website isn’t working as of this publication, but there is a Facebook page @fergusoncitywalk with updated information.
The University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL, pronounced Um-suhl) is just south of Ferguson and has almost 500 acres of grand architecture to explore.
You can visit the UMSL website to see what events or libraries are open to the public closer to your visit.
Jeske Sculpture Park is one of the newest works of art in Ferguson, with changing exhibits every few years.
The idea came after a series of tornadoes caused damage in Ferguson.
The park does have its own website where you can get a look at current and past sculptures.
There is a memorial plaque on the sidewalk in the 2900 block of Canfield Drive to mark the spot where Michael Brown was killed.
Places to Avoid in Ferguson
I’m from St. Louis, so I can speak about a city I know well and yet still manages to surprise me.
Ferguson is a community that has struggled as part of the poorer side of North County in St. Louis for generations.
Yes, there’s a lot of crime, and that is a reason to avoid the city in itself.
However, if you’re going to pay tribute to Michael Brown or help enrich or support the community, just use standard safety cautions.
Buy and support local.
It’s best to avoid the city at night and don’t get into arguments with people or get in the middle of two people fighting.
If there’s a fight brewing, leave and call 911.
The Ferguson Police Department is under a Consent Decree to change the way it interacts and policies the community, and a new police chief in 2023 is tasked with continuing the effort to make Ferguson a safer place to live and a better place to visit.
You can read through dozens of documents on the Consent Decree on the police department’s website.
If you take I-70 into St. Louis City, you’ll be going through some dangerous parts of town, especially if you exit on any side streets before the city.
I-44 and I-40 are safer ways to get downtown overall.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Ferguson
- Since Ferguson does have its own police department, you might want to ask about taking a tour and asking safety questions important to you. You can email them at email@example.com.
- Follow @CityofFergusonPoliceDepartment on Facebook to get updates about safety tips and criminal activity.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through Civic Ready. There’s a link on the city’s website where you can also get notified for city news flashes, which will be helpful for road issues or water main breaks.
- Use the MoDOT website and app to check traffic conditions. I-70 is a major interstate and can get heavily backed up throughout the day. Use the service to create routes that come with alerts about delays, accidents, or severe weather along the path.
- If you notice any hazards like potholes or fallen tree limbs on the street, contact Public Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t assume someone else has made the report.
- When it snows, major roads will be cleaned first. The state is responsible for interstates, and each jurisdiction will clean main roads first and then work through the side streets. Keep this in mind if you’re booking a hotel in the winter and don’t want to drive in a lot of snow.
- You cannot file police reports in Ferguson over the phone. Either call an officer to the scene or go to the police station to file the report. That’s even if the crime is a car break-in after the fact. You will have to pay for a copy of the police report.
- If you’ll be using the Metro system to get around St. Louis, download the Transit app to get routes, purchase passes, and see real-time bus activity.
- When using the Metro system or waiting at a bus stop, you can report any suspicious activity by calling Metro Public Safety at (314)300-0188.
- August 9 is the anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting, and there’s usually a memorial or celebration of life near the shooting scene. Check the city’s website for more information if you plan to visit during that timeframe.
So... How Safe Is Ferguson Really?
Ferguson got a new police chief in March 2023, one with a lot of experience working in St. Louis County.
He has a long road ahead of him.
Ferguson is historically one of the communities that fuel the overall crime rate, leading to St. Louis being considered one of the most dangerous in the country.
The violent crime rate is twice the national average and has almost doubled in the past decade.
The homicide rate is eight times the national average in Ferguson.
On top of that, the city is seeing another nationwide trend in juvenile crime, with downright belligerent kids causing problems for the community.
“Juvenile crime is on the rise, and that’s something we all have to sit down and work on,” Berkley Police Chief Art Jackson said about a juvenile crime spree that included a Ferguson carjacking.
“It seems like they don’t care.
They don’t care about getting caught.
Even when we catch them, they’re laughing.
They’re laughing at us, it’s like it’s making a mockery of the system, and I think that’s a shame.”
Car thefts were up a staggering 152% in 2022, and 44% of thefts are car break-ins or car accessory thefts.
Another concerning theft category is shoplifting.
The one positive note for visitors is that just 13% of violent crimes in 2022 happened against strangers.
That low number doesn’t matter if you’re the woman facing a teenager with a gun at your head demanding the keys to your car, as happened in 2022.
If you’re just looking at St. Louis’ neighborhoods to visit, Ferguson shouldn’t be on your list.
If you’re visiting loved ones here, you’ll likely have a safer experience since they know the area well.
How Does Ferguson Compare?
|Santiago de Chile (Chile)
|Hong Kong (China)
Anyone visiting from outside the country needs a passport that isn't within six months of expiring. A visa or visa waiver will be part of the planning process, and you can start that on the U.S. State Department website by using the Visa Wizard module.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar currency. The lowest exchange fees come from your home bank, but the airport has a currency exchange option as well. Some banks will buy back unused currency for a small fee at the end of your trip.
Plan for all four seasons, but bring some extra layers because temperatures can fluctuate in each season. You'll need bug spray from spring through fall. Comfortable walking shoes are a must to enjoy all the walking in this large metro area.
Ferguson is less than five miles from the major airport of St. Louis Lambert International.
Travel insurance to a place with severe weather throughout the year just makes sense. The policy will also go into effect as soon as you make the purchase, offering flexibility with cancelations or emergencies on your end.
Ferguson Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Missouri - Safety by City