Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Shawnee, Kansas is in the heart of Johnson County, which is a highly residential and pretty well of part of the greater Kansas City metro area.
Kansas City’s metro area spans two states, leading to a confusing Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas (known as KCK).
To make it more complicated, there’s a Shawnee County, but it’s not near Shawnee.
There’s a good chance if you’re visiting Shawnee, you’re here for some kind of sporting event at the Mid-America Sports Complex.
I am from St. Louis originally and played many softball tournaments there in the 80s and 90s.
A handful of hotels are in Shawnee near Midland Drive and I-435, making for easy access to the greater region.
The shining star of the Shawnee area is Shawnee Mission Park with a lake, beach, and outdoor amenities.
This is the largest of a series of parks in this city of 67,000 people.
You’ll hear Shawnee and Shawnee Mission used interchangeably.
Shawnee Mission dates back to a postal code and summarized several of the cities in the “mission” area settled in 1839.
The name of the city is Shawnee.
Warnings & Dangers in Shawnee
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here. While there is a substantial amount of crime, none of it rises to a level above the national or state averages.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
RideKC is the public transportation throughout the metro area and there is a Johnson County Route and an Express Route from Shawnee to downtown. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to come by. There are a lot of bicycle-friendly areas here too. A low risk comes with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with the theft rate being about 10% lower than the national average. The biggest risk here will be leaving a purse or backpack unattended or out of sight (like on the back of a restaurant chair) and having it get snatched.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Kansas City has the typical Midwestern risks of thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail storms, flooding, snowstorms, and ice storms. The eastern half of the state also has a smaller earthquake risk from the New Madrid Fault Line on the other side of Missouri. There's a medium risk, but it's nothing the city isn't prepared for throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
With a robbery rate of about 1/4 the national average, you have a low risk of getting robbed here. You can also search the police department's interactive and up-to-date crime map to see if any robberies have happened closer to your visit.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk just for the fact Shawnee is part of a major metro area. Shawnee itself likely wouldn't be a target.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The most prominent scam is a call from someone claiming to be with law enforcement and threatening arrest unless you pay them over the phone. This is more likely to impact people with a Kansas area code, so there's a low risk it will happen to a tourist.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women should feel safe here with low risk. The sexual assault rate is just below the national average and there are a lot of safe places with people around to explore.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The Water District of Johnson County provides a detailed water quality report for 2022 on its website. There were no violations in the water tested and all elements were within the required limits. There's low risk when using tap water to drink or bathe.
Safest Places to Visit in Shawnee
Shawnee Mission Park is the best destination in the city.
There’s a beach open seasonally and is ranked as one of the best beaches in Kansas.
(Truth be told, how many beaches are there in a landlocked state?)
There are so many designated areas here for things to do.
There’s even a model rocket launch section and archery range!
Trout fishing is popular and you can use hiking or mountain bike trails.
Shawnee Town 1929 is a historical village and museum taking you back to the roots of this suburb.
There are period costumed actors throughout the year and several outdoor venues for shows.
Check the schedule before you go to see what special events are happening.
Do you ever wonder how cavities were filled before modern dentistry was invented?
What did you do when your appendix burst in the 1800s?
The answers are in the Medicine’s Hall of Fame and Museum in Shawnee.
There’s even an iron lung on display and an abundance of Native American healing ceremonies explained.
For a unique dining experience, how about a steak and glass of cabernet in a castle?
The Wandering Vine at the Castle is the place to indulge in Shawnee.
I’m looking at lobster tagliatelle in the champagne sauce right now and it looks delicious.
This is definitely a better place for a romantic dinner than a family gathering.
There is a brunch menu if you don’t mind paying $7 for a cinnamon roll.
Kansas City barbecue is world-renowned so be sure to visit one of the many BBQ restaurants in Shawnee.
The meat starts with a dry rub over various wood fires and then is topped with a signature sweet and spicy sauce.
If you really want a unique experience, try the burnt ends from KC BBQ chefs.
For a place, the whole family can eat and play, check out the Incredible Pizza Company.
This restaurant offers more than just pizza on its expansive buffet.
There are rides, arcade games, virtual reality games, and amusement park rides.
This place gives Chuck E. Cheese a run for its game tokens.
Places to Avoid in Shawnee
Anywhere west of I-435 is going to be the safest part of the city.
The farther east you go, the higher the crime rates get.
However, there isn’t a bad part of Shawnee.
You are in a big city region, so crime from the bad parts of town can spill over into the suburbs, but this is a relatively safe place to park it.
Don’t ever, EVER, say Kansas City barbecue isn’t the best you’ve ever had in front of anyone from this area.
The barbecue wars are real in America.
I’m from St. Louis and some of my best friends are from Kansas City.
It’s almost annoying how much they brag, but I’ve tried those burnt ends and they’re not wrong.
I’ve also had Memphis barbecue and they’re not wrong either.
Just don’t tell anyone in Kansas City I said that, okay?
There is also a lot of confusion and rivalry between Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.
It didn’t help when President Trump tweeted to the “Great State of Kansas” about the Chief’s Super Bowl victory.
The Chiefs actually are a team from the Missouri side of the area.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Shawnee
- I mentioned this earlier, but there’s a crime map on the police department’s website. It’s interactive and you can search by entering a date range, address, and types of crime in a certain radius of your choosing. This is a really great way to check more recent crime trends.
- The non-emergency number for the Shawnee Police Department is (913) 631-2155 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach out to them with specific safety questions about your visit. If you want to contact park police for Johnson County, that number is (913) 782-0720.
- The police department provides an Annual Report each year and posts it on the “Who We Are” section of its website. It’s a little buried in the website, which is why I bring it up. This shows the challenges and success of the previous year, and for those who like diving into statistics, you’ll find a treasure trove of safety information.
- There are several bright green parking spots at the police department and fire station 72. These are “safe exchange” zones if you are finalizing an internet purchase. The spots of specifically marked to be under 24/7 video surveillance for your safety. While the camera is always recording, it’s best to do these transactions during the day when the police department’s front lobby is open.
- If you are planning outdoor activities at any of the parks in Shawnee or Johnson County, bookmark the “Rain Out” website page. You can also call (913) 686-6220 for updates on parks, (913) 686-6030 for activities, and (913) 204-0204 for trail updates. You can also sign up for closure alerts through the Johnson County website.
- When visiting the Shawnee Mission Park Beach, you should know that non-residents of Johnson County will pay a couple of dollars more for access. You can’t bring any inflatables as you’d use in a family pool and all flotation devices must be U.S. Coast Guard approved. You can bring your own food, but no glass containers, please. Alcohol and smoking are not allowed at the beach.
- When researching Shawnee, it can be really easy to end up in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Both states have similar landscapes, so it can be confusing. When in doubt, scroll to the bottom of any website and see the address for the city.
- Notify JoCo is the emergency alert system for all of Johnson County. Signing up for these notifications will keep you up to date on all weather, hazmat, or community threats happening or about to happen.
- If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors in Shawnee and Kansas, it’s worth the investment in a NOAA battery-powered weather radio. Cell phone towers can go down in storms and radio stations can go off the air. A weather radio is the most reliable way to follow weather dangers in your area.
- Anglers need to have several fishing licenses in Johnson County. There’s a state license, a license from Johnson County Parks & Recreation, and a trout fishing license if you want to catch trout. This is a little more complicated than in some other states I’ve researched. The good news? There are many locations to get this license in Johnson County, including all the Wal*Marts (two are in Shawnee) and the Bass Pro Shop in Olathe.
So... How Safe Is Shawnee Really?
Shawnee is what I’d call “relatively” safe.
This is a suburban area with a lot of attractions.
The community is middle to upper-class and the poverty rate is low at just 5%.
The biggest risk would be at places like Shawnee Mission Park where people from outside Shawnee come to visit and you aren’t sure what kind of risk or reward they might bring.
I use the word “relatively” because there is a certain amount of crime here.
There were 952 thefts and 193 violent crimes, though no homicides have happened since at least 2020.
Here’s how the risks break down in Shawnee:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 348 risk
- Theft: 1 in 82 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 3,060 risk
Shawnee is a great family-friendly place to visit with indoor and outdoor attractions, plus the basic suburban amenities like a Target and plenty of restaurants.
How Does Shawnee Compare?
|Santiago de Chile (Chile)||71|
|Hong Kong (China)||70|
The U.S. Visa process is detailed, so plan several months ahead of time to make sure you meet all the deadlines. Once you're through Customs at the airport, you don't need your visa to travel between the states or cities of the Kansas City metro area.
The U.S. Dollar is the only form of currency accepted here. You can make the majority of purchases with a credit card or mobile pay apps. There's little need to carry cash here, but if you want to exchange currency there are several locations throughout the metro area.
The only thing consistent about Midwestern weather is inconsistency. Winters are generally going to be cold, so bring plenty of warm layers. There might be some warmer days in there if you get lucky. Spring and fall are unpredictable as well, but bringing some t-shirts and sweatshirts will help adjust to the temperatures accordingly. Summers will be hot and humid. You can bring shorts and t-shirts and feel comfortable, but you'll need bug spray and sunscreen.
Kansas City International Airport is about 30 minutes away on the northern Missouri side of the metro area.
Travel insurance is going to help with any weather-related delays or unforeseen accidents that happen along the way. It's a good idea to have that peace of mind in a strange city.
Shawnee Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City