Kansas : Safety by City
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Remember when President Trump congratulated the “great state of Kansas” when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl?
He made a common error.
There are two cities named Kansas City, and they are right next to each other in two different states.
The Chiefs are the Kansas City, Missouri football team, although the entire metro area of Kansas City encompasses the cities and suburbs on both sides of state lines.
This article is about Kansas City, Kansas, also known as KCK.
Kansas City, Missouri, is known as KCMO.
Which came first?
Kansas City, Missouri.
In fact, it was incorporated before Kansas was even a state.
KCK isn’t even the biggest city in Kansas.
That honor goes to Wichita.
The KC metro area suburb of Overland Park is the second largest, and KCK is the third biggest city with 157,000 people.
You could fit three KCKs in one KCMO, with Missouri’s Kansas City having a population of more than a half million people.
Does it really matter which Kansas City you are in?
For the large part, no.
There are parts of the city where you won’t even realize you’ve crossed a state line.
It’s just important to keep track of them when it comes to booking reservations, hotels, and attractions so you can double-check you are in the right state.
KCK does have its own police force (and we’ll talk about why that’s a good thing in a minute), but the government is consolidated at the county level in what’s called the “Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City.”
This is important because when you start searching for information, it looks odd to see wycokck.org as the website for the city.
Warnings & Dangers in KCK
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk in KCK. There's also a medium risk in KCMO. Kansas City, Missouri, is one of the most dangerous cities nationwide when you look at just crime data. KCK didn't make the most dangerous list nationally, but it did on the Kansas list.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
RideKC is the transit system that covers the entire metro area. There isn't a separate system by the state. Taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are readily available. There's a medium risk when you're traveling in the downtown areas, but the suburbs in the southwest part of the Kansas side are safe. Those are all in Johnson County.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
Data provided to the FBI by KCK police doesn't go into the weeds on specific theft crimes as many other Kansas towns do. However, the theft risk is one in 31, with an average rate of more than twice the national average. There's a medium risk for every crime possible here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The entire Kansas City metro area is in the heart of the Midwest, which means a lot of severe weather potential. Winter brings snowstorms, ice storms, sleet, and occasionally severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes. Spring kicks off tornado season with thunderstorms quite common. Extreme heat and cold are possible as well. Flooding will always be a concern in a river town, and the Kansas and Missouri rivers meet right in between the two downtowns.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery rate is 65% higher than the national average, and the violent crime rate is 53% higher than the national rate. There's a medium risk here, too, and please, don't resist a robbery attempt due to the violent nature of this city.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here as well with such a large population center and Fort Leavenworth just 35 miles away. Kansas City has its own office of Homeland Security to keep threats away and investigate suspicious activity.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Most of the reported scams involve the typical utility billing demand or get-rich-quick schemes. There's also a scam going around this section of Kansas where people will sell gold out of a trunk, and then when someone goes to pawn the gold, they find out it's junk. Be on the lookout as there's a medium risk someone will try to hustle you.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women should definitely avoid traveling at night alone and try to always travel with a group or a buddy. The sexual assault rate is 30% higher than the national average, with 83 rapes reported in 2020.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The latest water quality report, which was published in 2021 for the year 2020, shows all standards were exceeded in the water quality, and no violations were reported. There's at least one low risk in KCK.
Safest Places to Visit in KCK
One of the top draws to the Kansas side of Kansas City is Kansas Speedway.
This is a NASCAR track with two main events each year and some smaller events too.
There are several fan experiences you can pay extra for, including a chance to ride the NASCAR track.
Right next to the speedway is the Legends Outlets of Kansas City, with discount shopping and plenty of restaurants nearby.
One note – across the street from Legends is a location called “Plaza at the Speedway.”
This is NOT “The Plaza,” as many people will tell you about in Kansas City.
The popular “Plaza” is Country Club Plaza just south of KCMO.
The Great Wolf Lodge is a great place to stay and close to the aforementioned attractions, but it is also home to a massive indoor water park with lazy rivers, incredible slides, water sports, hot springs, and so much more.
You can buy a day pass if you are not staying at the lodge.
For a more upscale hotel, you’ll love Chateau Avalon hotel and spa just across the street.
It looks like a castle and comes with some of the most affordable spa prices I’ve seen in an upscale hotel.
Wyandotte County Lake Park is a perfect outdoor adventure but still in Kansas City.
You can rent boats, fish, hike, ride horses, try archery, or just have a picnic.
There is also an area for fishing just for children.
Kaw Point Park is in an industrial area near downtown, so I want you to use extra caution when visiting here.
However, it’s too cool not to mention.
This is where the Missouri and Kansas rivers meet, and you can get a photo with an outline of Lewis & Clark pointing west.
The traveling duo stayed there for a couple of days in 1804.
You’ll love the downtown views.
The Rosedale Memorial Arch is a smaller version of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.
It’s a tribute to the soldiers of World War I. Additional monuments are located here to honor those who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Across the street from the park is the University of Kansas Medical Center and on the grounds is a botanical garden.
For some Kansas City culture, visit the Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center.
The vibrant-colored building honors the immigrants who first arrived in this region.
This building also once served as a makeshift doctor’s office treating children who were infected during the 1918 influenza outbreak.
There are nine ethnic exhibits inside this museum.
Driving along Minnesota Avenue, you’ll see the Avenue of Murals.
These brilliant and vibrant designs offer a piece of the story that defines Kansas City.
Places to Avoid in KCK
It’s easier to address this by telling you the safer parts of the city instead of the places to avoid.
The lowest crime levels are on the northwest and southwest sides of town.
The central core from the river to 78th Street has the highest crime rates.
The lower the street name number and the closer you are to the river, the higher the crime rate is.
Even the KCK police department has identified the most dangerous area as a focal point to fight crime.
That area is Grandview Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, on the north and side boundaries.
18th Street and 7th Street form the west and eastern boundaries.
That’s a 1.2 square mile area where 30% of drive-by shootings and homicides happen.
If you should think twice about visiting parts of KCK, you should triple-think about parts of KCMO.
Kansas City, Missouri, is surprisingly more dangerous than Kansas City, Kansas.
They both have homicide rates of around 35 per 100,000 people, while the national average is six homicides per 100,000.
For those who are either A. Fed up with me writing the word “Kansas” or B.
Still confused about KCK vs KCMO for any reason; I get it.
I’m trying my darnedest to write this in an easy-to-understand way.
A challenge of researching this region is that you can wholeheartedly be searching for something in KCK and end up in KCMO.
Most searches are going to default to KCMO.
Just avoid getting confused as much as you can.
Safety Tips for Traveling to KCK
- The KCK Police Department has an interactive crime map link on its website. You can also sort the crimes by specific details, see categories with charts and graphics, and click specific dots on a location that displays crime details.
- I searched the above maps for the first six months of 2022, and it backs up what the 2020 crime distribution maps said about the most dangerous parts of the city. It also showed me that theft and robberies are more likely to occur on Fridays and Saturdays than any other day of the week. Thefts are more likely to happen between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. This is the kind of great data hunting you can do on this map.
- The area mentioned above that the police department is targeting is known as the Central Avenue Corridor. If you can, avoid this area. Even driving on the streets can be dangerous, as the police say, “knowledge that crimes often involve motor vehicles.” If you do visit this area, you can go knowing the police are hyper-focused in this region, and you might see higher visibility of police cars. There is more about this in the Project Act section of the department’s website.
- I want to give you several phone numbers to program into your mobile device before you go. These numbers will help you report non-urgent crimes or give crime tips. Narcotics Hotline: (913)573-6287. Crime Stoppers, where you can give crime tips anonymously and be eligible for a reward: (816)474-TIPS. Hit & Run phone line: (913)573-6003. Report graffiti: (913)573-8600.
- Police officers dedicated to community policing are assigned to different areas. You can call (913)573-8730 to find out the name and contact information of the officer in the neighborhood where you’ll be staying or visiting to get updated crime and safety information.
- The website for the city-county government has a printable map of all public parking locations. Parking prices average $1 per hour with an $8 maximum charge. Some of the parking spots and lots are for monthly permit holders, so don’t park in any reserved spot, even if it’s empty.
- Download the myWyco app for iOS or Android, and you’ll be connected to the city to ask questions or report issues. You can also dial 311 on your mobile device to reach someone 24 hours a day. This is NOT an emergency line, but it’s great for things like big potholes or storm debris in the road. It’s also there to answer any question a resident or visitor might have.
- If you want to go fishing at the lake, you’ll need a license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife if you are 16 or older. You need to confirm you got the right permit allowing you to fish at Wyandotte County Lake and Pierson Lake.
- You need a weather app to keep track of the developing weather here. Kansas City television stations also have apps, so look for KCTV and WDAF, as those are two of the top stations in town. I live about three hours from Kansas City, and as I’m writing this, I just got out of my closet from a severe storm that rolled through, even though I’m nursing sunburn from playing with the dogs in clear blue skies just a few hours ago. Weather in the Midwest can change just that rapidly.
- To keep up with crime and safety information as it happens, follow the KCK Police Department on Facebook. The handle is @KCKPolice. While it’s jarring to see all the crimes reported, there’s a good mix of safety information and some humorous content to balance it out.
So... How Safe Is KCK Really?
There are cities where tourists expect it to be dangerous, like Chicago, Philadelphia, or even St. Louis.
Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) tend to catch people off guard when they realize how high the crime numbers are.
KCK is a working-class city with 20% of people living in poverty.
Some people are roped into gang life early in their childhood, while others get addicted to drugs as America battles an opioid epidemic.
Here’s how the risks break down in KCK:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 134 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 819
- Theft: 1 in 31
Looking at the number of car break-ins and thefts, some violent or sexual in nature, is really jarring to see.
While the police are trying to crack down on the worst crimes and the most dangerous areas, it also takes the community to be part of the solution.
That’s why it’s important to have those phone numbers to help be part of the solution.
The crime rates here are all nearly double the national average, if not higher.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Kansas City, Kansas.
It’s just about being smart about where you go and when you go.
Stay out of the downtown area at night, and if a situation ever feels the slightest bit uncomfortable – leave immediately.
The western side of the city has a lot more to do in a lot safer environment.
You can also feel much safer visiting and staying in Johnson County.
How Does KCK Compare?
|Hong Kong (China)
You'll need a U.S. Travel Visa to enter Kansas City. That will cost about $160 and take a couple of months of processing. Start the application process as early as you can. Once you leave the airport, you can travel freely through both states in the metro area without showing your visa.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) here. Exchange your currency at the airport to be around security cameras and officers. You don't really need cash here, as every location accepts credit cards or mobile pay apps. If you insist on carrying cash, only bring very little with you as you travel throughout the city.
The beauty of the four seasons fills the Kansas City metro area, but the temperatures can fluctuate even within seasons. Always bring some layers of shirts and pants or sweaters with dresses in case there's a wicked temperature swing. You'll need winter outerwear, and summer will be warm with shorts and t-shirts working perfectly.
Kansas City International Airport is on the Missouri side of the metro area and sits about 20 minutes north of KCK.
You should definitely get travel insurance for a trip here. The weather is wild, the crime rates are high, and the drivers are somewhat unpredictable.
KCK Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City