Missouri : Safety by City
- Blue Springs
- Cape Girardeau
- Creve Coeur
- Jefferson City
- Kansas City
- Lee’s Summit
- Maryland Heights
- New Madrid
- Poplar Bluff
- St. Charles
- St. Joseph
- St. Louis
- Ste. Genevieve
Jennings, Missouri, is part of the greater St. Louis metro area in a region known as North County.
Jennings has a rich history, having been established in 1857 as a railroad town.
The city was named after William Jennings, who was a farmer and landowner in the area.
Throughout its history, Jennings has been a diverse community with residents of various ethnic and racial backgrounds.
This area is historically disenfranchised and poverty-stricken, with high crime rates and failing infrastructure.
Even the police department had to be shut down because of corruption.
St. Louis County Police Department took over law enforcement in the aftermath.
There aren’t hotels in Jennings, another sign that this isn’t a place designed for tourists.
Community improvements are being made with new developments and street improvements, but it’s a long way from being a safe place to visit.
Warnings & Dangers in Jennings
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
There's a high risk here, not just because of violent crime rates 10 times higher than the national average, but also because there isn't anything to do here. Gangs, drugs, and illegal guns make up a large share of the problems in this community.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
The St. Louis Metro bus system goes through Jennings. Rideshares and taxis are available. Rentals cars can be found throughout St. Louis city and county. This isn't the safest place to wait for a bus, especially at night. Treat all options of driving through Jennings with medium risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Theft rates are three times the national average, and you don't want to be wearing expensive jewelry or carrying valuable electronic devices while you're here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
St. Louis gets potentially dangerous weather throughout the year, with spring being the start of tornado season. Severe thunderstorms can cause street flooding, power outages, and downed trees. Winter storms can range from heavy snow to ice-covered roads.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is eight times the national average. Treat this with a medium risk, and again, any valuable items you carry or that can be seen are potential targets. In a poverty-stricken area, it's just begging for trouble to be showing off.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Being one of the largest metro areas in the country, St. Louis gets a medium risk and a lot of security. Use the traditional policy of See Something, Say Something if you notice anything suspicious.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
131 cases of fraud were reported in 2022. This is not a part of town you want to use an ATM or exchange currency. Don't listen to any offer to sell you jewelry or trinkets on the side of the road, and watch out for people begging for money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
Women should avoid this area unless they are visiting someone they know. It's best to not even drive through this part of town at night. Treat it with a high risk.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The city of St. Louis proudly notes in the 2021 Water Quality Report that this is the 117th year of no water violations. Since there aren't any hotels in Jennings, you can't check with the front desk about water main accidents, but the city's social media pages should note any emergency concerns.
Safest Places to Visit in Jennings
Jennings is a residential urban neighborhood without any tourist attractions.
The new Northland Shopping Center brought a grocery store and Target store to the area, which was a big boost for the economy.
Spanish Lake Park is about 15 minutes to the north, offering fishing, hiking, and picnic areas.
It is open daily from dawn until dusk.
Norwood Hills County Club is on the edge of Jennings, but membership is required.
You can call ahead of time to see if there’s a daily or weekly membership you can buy during your visit.
It will be one of the most affordable county club options in the metro area.
It’s about 10 miles from downtown St. Louis, and you can learn about more things to do in the city at Explorestlouis.com.
Forest Park is the Central Park of St. Louis and sits seven miles from Jennings.
You can also reach the casinos along the Missouri River less than 20 minutes to the east.
A half-hour north of Jennings, you can weave your way through wetlands to reach the conservation area where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet.
Places to Avoid in Jennings
Unless you know someone in Jennings and you plan to visit them, you should avoid the whole city.
I had a few friends who lived in the poverty-stricken North County neighborhoods, and even they wouldn’t let me leave to head home on the other side of town after dark.
It’s not even that this is a poor minority city – there’s just nothing to do compared to the larger picture of the St. Louis area.
The poverty rate is nearly 30%, with an annual income average just above the poverty line.
If you’re looking for local events, the city’s Facebook page is “City of Jennings, MO.”
For example, there was a Ballin’ in the Lou basketball game between St. Louis City and County police officers.
Since the Mississippi is on the east side of North County and the Missouri River is on the north boundary, you should know the river levels and check for flooding before you go to any parks or conservation areas.
The bridges into Illinois will likely not be impacted by river flooding, but local roads will be.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Jennings
- Jennings has a dedicated precinct within the St. Louis County Police Department. Follow them on Facebook @StlCountyPDJennings. Contact them with questions by calling (314) 385-4672.
- Jennings Station Road is a major street in this part of the city. It’s four lanes with a center turn lane and mostly straight with few curves. It is known for excessive speeding, police chases, and reckless driving. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid this major artery but just pay attention, don’t get enraged by aggressive drivers, and get out of the way of speeders.
- There is a QR code you can scan on the city of Jennings website that will take you to the community crime portal, where you can give information about everything from abandoned cars to criminal activity. Call 911 in an emergency, but this is great for reporting issues like those speeding cars mentioned above or graffiti.
- Don’t assume kids aren’t capable of crime because juvenile crime is a problem in this community. It’s a trend happening nationwide. Since juveniles face fewer penalties and no jail time for many crimes, they’ll be pressured to get into crime and do the deeds of older offenders on their last chance.
- Look under the Economic Development tab on the city’s website to see if any new projects or amenities are coming before your visit. As there’s a concerted effort to reduce crime and offer more activities, you might be pleasantly surprised.
- If you notice a new pothole on the road or a large one, call the street department at (314) 385-4672. Don’t assume someone else has reported it. Many potholes pop up in spring after the winter freeze/thaw cycle.
- Don’t swim in the Missouri or Mississippi rivers. These are swift rivers with debris, mud, and toxins. There are many other lakes around the region to cool off. The rivers here are just too dangerous. I grew up in St. Louis and loved floating on the Meramec River, but it’s on the other side of the metro area.
- Never drive through flooded roadways. During one storm in the summer of 2022, Jennings Station Road at Natural Bridge was flooded during heavy rain. It only takes six inches of water to knock down a person or pick up a car.
- If you are using a gas station in any part of the urban St. Louis area, you should not leave your purse, wallet, or mobile phone unattended in the car. There has been a string of robberies where thieves sneak into unlocked doors while a driver is pumping gas. Either lock your car while you’re pumping or bring your personal items with you.
- The St. Louis County Police Department has a YouTube page where they post videos about safety topics, Black History Month, improvements, community concerns, etc. It’s a great resource to see more than criminal activities, as that’s what fills the pages of Facebook mostly.
So... How Safe Is Jennings Really?
Jennings is not safe today, nor has it been safe historically.
North County gets a bad reputation as a whole, but there are parts of the city – like Jennings – that are just places where visitors don’t need to be unless they have family or friends there.
The violent crime rate is a staggering 10 times the national average.
Another shocking average is that one car, gun crime, or drug crime is reported each day.
Even if you aren’t the direct target of a robbery, you could be in a business that is.
Burglaries of closed businesses were trending in 2022.
There are a lot of abandoned buildings here as well.
Poverty and systemically underserved communities aren’t tourist attractions.
Jennings is surrounded by some other dangerous neighborhoods without attractions as well.
There’s too much to see and do in St. Louis to worry about “seeing it all” and risking your safety.
How Does Jennings Compare?
- Visas - A passport and visa or visa waiver are required to get through Customs at the airport. You will show proof of both documents when you arrive and be asked a few questions. Don't make jokes or start a long conversation. It's a quick process, but any suspicious activity could cause delays and further scrutiny.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, but don't bring them to Jennings. Use currency exchange options at the airport or stick to credit cards in the UDS denomination.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons here, so dress accordingly. Winters can be tough, but there won't always be snow on the ground. You'll still need a coat, gloves, and a hat. Summers are hot and humid with a lot of bugs due to the nearby rivers. Spring and fall can be cold one day and hot the next, so bring layers to acclimate to whatever Midwestern weather has in store.
- Airports - St. Louis Lambert International Airport is six miles from Jennings. It's a major airport and the best option around.
- Travel Insurance - You want travel insurance to cover the cost of weather delays, trip cancelations, or emergencies. As soon as you purchase travel insurance, it goes into effect, so don't wait until the last minute.
Jennings Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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