Is Johnson City Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 28, 2024
Johnson City, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Johnson City, Tennessee, is part of the tri-cities region at the eastern corners of the state.

Bristol and Kingsport round out the trifecta of Appalachian foothills communities.

This region was proposed as the State of Franklin in 1784.

Despite efforts to establish sovereignty, the State of Franklin ultimately failed and was absorbed back into North Carolina in 1788.

Tennessee was admitted to the union in 1796, splitting the former State of Franklin further.

While Johnson City has many historical sites to further tell those stories, it’s also a growing city that is home to East Tennessee State University.

In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and neighbor to Cherokee National Forest, wilderness and outdoor activities are plentiful.

At the same time, the downtown is lively and the vibrant arts scene offers something for all interests.

Johnson City gives you a little bit of everything to consider, all wrapped in a bow of Southern hospitality.

Warnings & Dangers in Johnson City

Overall Risk


There's a low risk in Johnson City that is more like an average risk for crimes that might impact tourists. With the number of things to do, there are plenty of safe spaces to enjoy your time.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Johnson City Transit has fixed route service from Monday through Saturday, with rides starting around 6 am through 5 pm. Taxis and rideshares are plentiful. To explore the most adventurous parts of the region, get a rental car.

Pickpockets Risk


About three pickpockets or purse snatchings happen on average each year, according to the past five years of crime data. The risk is low, but use extra caution downtown as that's where the bulk of those reports came from.

Natural Disasters Risk


Johnson City faces natural disaster risks like floods due to its proximity to waterways like the Nolichucky River. It also experiences occasional severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, typical for the region. The risk is medium, but all concerns come with plenty of advance notice.

Mugging Risk


Just 17% of the robberies in the past five years were muggings, with about six each year. The risk is low, but stay in well-lit areas near downtown and don't walk around at night alone.

Terrorism Risk


Nothing stands out as a potential terrorism target in Johnson City, but you can read the emergency management plan from the city or county to learn about preparedness.

Scams Risk


The risk is low for tourists as most scams reported in recent years focus on residents. For example, fraudsters have been calling people, telling them they missed jury duty and demanding payment over the phone. Since you don't live there, you won't be a victim of this scam.

Women Travelers Risk


Nothing in the crime data suggests women should have a greater concern than anyone else. If you're a student at East Tennessee State University, review the safety guidance from the Public Safety Office.

Tap Water Risk


The latest water quality report from 2022 shows no violations and full compliance. There is a larger concern about the "Forever Chemicals" known as PFAS in the source water, but that's a challenge many American cities are facing. The risk is low but always check with the utility company if there has been recent flooding.

Safest Places to Visit in Johnson City

Two websites to help you plan your trip are and

The first covers the city, and the second covers just the downtown area.

The city is broken up into distinct districts.

Here’s a sample of those.

Johnson City’s downtown area is the heart of the city, offering a vibrant mix of historical architecture, locally-owned shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Main Street is lined with charming storefronts, while Founders Park provides a scenic outdoor space for events and gatherings.

Visitors can enjoy live music, art galleries, and cultural events in this bustling district.

The up-and-coming West Walnut District is known for its eclectic mix of businesses, including art galleries, specialty shops, and trendy eateries.

West Walnut Street has a hip, urban vibe and is a popular destination for those seeking unique shopping and dining experiences.

Located near East Tennessee State University, the Med-Tech Corridor is home to a cluster of medical facilities, research centers, and technology companies.

This district is at the forefront of healthcare innovation and is an important economic driver for the region.

South Roan Street is a major thoroughfare in Johnson City, lined with a mix of commercial businesses, restaurants, and residential neighborhoods.

This district is known for its convenience and accessibility, with a variety of shopping and dining options along the bustling street.

Before Tennessee achieved statehood, the area now known as Johnson City was part of a region called the State of Franklin.

Explore the State of Franklin’s heritage through historical sites, museums, and educational programs that commemorate this pivotal period in the region’s history.

Step back in time at Gray Fossil Site and Museum, which showcases an active Pliocene-era fossil dig site.

Visitors can observe ongoing excavations and explore exhibits featuring fossils of prehistoric animals, plants, and more.

It’s an engaging and educational experience for all ages.

History buffs will enjoy a visit to Tipton-Haynes, a historic farmstead that dates back to the late 18th century.

The site features several restored buildings, including the Tipton-Haynes House, which offers guided tours providing insights into the region’s early settlement and Civil War history.

The railroad history of this Tennessee town comes to life at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum.

Visitors can view model train displays, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the area’s railway heritage.

One of my favorite spots in this region is the Rocky Mount Museum, which gives a glimpse into 18th-century Appalachian life.

This living history museum features a restored historic home, farm, and reenactments.

Visitors experience daily life, crafts, and demonstrations from the era.

Perfect for families and curious minds, the Hands On! Discovery Center interactive science museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts.

Winged Deer Park is home to the Winged Deer Park Interpretive Display, which offers information about the park’s natural features, wildlife, and Native American history.

It’s a great stop for outdoor enthusiasts and those interested in the area’s ecology.

To experience the Appalachian wilderness, head to the Unaka Mountains, which are part of the Cherokee National Forest.

If you’re looking for things to do in the Tri-Cities region, check out the Northeast Tennessee tourism website.

Places to Avoid in Johnson City

Johnson City has a lot of improvement work happening, including a major project between the university and downtown.

The increase in population and growing resources means any more concerning part of town could change as the city evolves.

As it stands in mid-2024, no parts of town are too dangerous to visit, but you’ll be able to eyeball a neighborhood to see if it’s welcoming or not.

Stick to the main roads and highways, enjoying the entertainment districts, parks, and attractions for the safest experience.

Since Johnson City is in the foothills, that means the 1,525 feet of elevation increases the chances of snow compared to places like Memphis or Nashville.

With about 45 inches of snow, that can make driving into the mountains more risky.

An all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle is ideal.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Johnson City

  1. Johnson City does have a local police department. You can follow them on Facebook @johnsoncitypolice. Since there’s also a Johnson City, New York, be sure you’re on the right page. The area code here will always start with 423. The police department’s phone number is (423) 434-6160.
  2. You should also have the phone numbers for the other tri-cities police departments. Bristol’s number is (423) 989-5600. They don’t have a social media page. Kingsport Police Department is on Instagram @kingsportpd. Their phone number is (423)246-9111.
  3. You can sign up for emergency alerts in Johnson City by using the Civic Ready system. This will send weather, public safety, and traffic alerts to your mobile device.
  4. If you notice suspicious activity, please call (423)434-6158. You can also text “423JCPD” along with the tip to phone number 847411 (TIP41). This system does allow you to remain anonymous.
  5. Johnson City Police have an interactive crime map where you can check out the most recent crime across the city. You can choose any time frame from the past week to the last three months and select which crimes you want to focus on.
  6. Fishing and hunting require a license in Tennessee, and you can read the non-resident requirements at the Go Outdoors Tennessee website. Carry the license with you anytime you’re doing the licensed activity.
  7. The abrupt changes in weather tear up some of the roads in Johnson City. The freeze-thaw cycles can lead to potholes. If you notice a new hole, please report it using the See Click Fix program.
  8. You can review the interactive parking map on the city’s website to see where there is free parking, paid parking, and other parking options. If you get a ticket, you’ll pay that through the police department.
  9. I-26 goes right through the heart of Johnson City. This busty interstate sees more than 70,000 vehicles daily. At least one accident happens each day (on average), looking back on two years of crash data. Keep your eyes on the road and give plenty of space to semi-trucks using this route.
  10. Before swimming in any lake or river, check the Tennessee Valley Authority’s website regarding water quality. PFAS (forever chemicals) have been found in Boone Lake over the years, and with the amount of manufacturing done on this waterway, you only want to choose spots that are safe for swimming. Some of those are the TVA-designated swimming areas. One of those is in Johnson City at the Boone Dam and Reservoir.

So... How Safe Is Johnson City Really?

4% lower than the national average and 39% lower than the state average.

Roughly 36% of the violent crimes were against strangers, which is higher than even in tourist cities like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but still, nothing to get too worried about.

Even more so when we see that 55% of violent crimes happen in private homes.

The theft rate in Johnson City is 98% higher than the national average.

About 45% of that is related to shoplifting.

About one in five thefts is either a car burglary or stolen car parts.

Another concerning theft statistic is that, on average, a car is stolen every other day in Johnson City.

In addition, car theft in Johnson City has surged 142% in the past decade.

One positive statistic is that even though the population has grown 12.5% over the past decade, crime rates are down 16% compared to a decade ago.

Johnson City is a mix of locals and newcomers looking for more affordable housing.

Then there’s the retiree population.

Plus, it’s a great place for tourism.

Common sense and basic manners will go a long way toward enjoying your time here.

How Does Johnson City Compare?

CitySafety Index
Johnson City68
Washington DC56
New York City67
San Diego67
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80

Useful Information



International visitors need either a visa or a visa waiver, but the home country and personal details will determine eligibility for the visa waiver. You should also check that your passport isn't within six months of expiring, or else you can't enter the U.S.



Only the U.S. Dollar is used in the United States. It looks like Johnson City used to have a foreign currency exchange spot, but that business is closed. Your home bank will have the lowest fees, but you can use ATMs for cash conversion, too.



Johnson City errs on the side of mild to hot from winter into the summer, and the coldest months are December and January. Since there are mountains nearby, you should bring clothing for hiking and different weather elements in the higher elevations. You definitely want to pack bug spray.



Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI) is the closest option, just 17 miles from Johnson City. If you want to fly out of the larger Knoxville airport, that's going to be about two and a half hours on the road.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance just makes sense since it covers the contingencies and emergencies that can happen when traveling.

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Johnson City Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 3° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 9° C
Apr 13° C
May 18° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 23° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 4° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Tennessee - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bell Buckle79
Johnson City68
Pigeon Forge78
Wears Valley78

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