Milwaukee Crime Rate and Safest Neighborhoods
Beer. Brats. Bucks and Brewers. Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, has plenty of Midwestern charm and appeal. But is Milwaukee safe? And is Milwaukee a good place to live? Let’s take a closer look at the Milwaukee crime rate and where you’ll find the safest neighborhoods in and around Cream City.
Once we’ve gone through the best places to live in Milwaukee, we’ll also share some tips about staying safe there or anywhere else.
Is Milwaukee Safe?
If you’re thinking about relocating, you want to know that you’ll feel safe in your new hometown. First, it’s valuable to consider the city as a whole. Just how dangerous is Milwaukee? What sort of crime will you find there, and how likely are you to become a victim?
Milwaukee Crime Rate
The most obvious indicator of a city’s safety (but not the only one) is its crime rate. The FBI is the definitive source for standardized crime data across the country. So what do Milwaukee crime statistics have to say?
Milwaukee saw approximately 9,600 violent offenses and 23,500 property offenses in 2021, for a total of more than 33,000 reported crimes. (Determining an exact number is tricky because of the different reporting standards of several city agencies.) With the city’s population, that means the overall Milwaukee, WI crime rate is about 58.3 crimes per 1,000 residents.
Comparatively, the national average is around 23 per 1,000. Wisconsin’s state crime rate is even lower at 18.6 per 1,000. In other words, the Milwaukee crime rate is bringing up the average, and not in a good way.
Digging Deeper Into Milwaukee Crime Statistics
Milwaukee experiences a lot of crime, but not all crimes carry the same weight in terms of your personal safety. So let’s take a closer look.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee really punches above its weight class (so to speak) in terms of violent crime. It has one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates, earning it the #13 slot on NeighborhoodScout’s list of the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States. Milwaukee is the only Wisconsin city on that list.
What’s under the umbrella of “violent crime”? Any physical offense directed toward another person. That includes crimes like murder, assault, rape, and robbery.
Milwaukee’s high homicide rate (more than 16 per 1,000 residents) puts it as the 36th most deadly U.S. city, according to CBS. The Milwaukee Police Department’s 2023 violent crime plan indicates that homicides increased by 11% in 2022, and up to 95% of homicides involved firearms.
That’s hardly reassuring. But what do natives think? Is Milwaukee dangerous to them?
Feeling Safe in Milwaukee
When it comes down to it, safety is a feeling. Many factors inform this feeling. Some of these factors are the prevalence of dangerous crime, the area’s police presence, and how quickly help arrives when needed, among others.
In a poll on AreaVibes, only 26% of responding Milwaukee residents said they felt safe at night. More than half said that crime was “awful.”
Milwaukeeans aren’t pleased with the police, either. A 2022 survey by the Milwaukee Police Department found that 36% of residents were “not very satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the MPD, up from 21% in 2019. And a Niche poll revealed that more than half of respondents found the police slow to respond or unreliable. An overburdened police force in a city with lots of crime can struggle to keep up, and Milwaukee seems to suffer from this issue.
So is Milwaukee safe? Not exactly. Let’s break it down by neighborhood to find the best area to stay in Milwaukee, whether for a visit or for a lifetime.
Safest Neighborhoods in Milwaukee
When you’re considering the relative safety and security of a city, location always matters. Here’s where you’ll find the safest neighborhoods in Milwaukee, according to NeighborhoodScout.
- Downer Woods / University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
- Bay View Southeast
- Castle Manor
- National Park South
- Morgan Heights / Alcott Park
- Upper East Side
- Washington Heights
- Saveland Park
- Marquette University
As is typically the case in large cities, the safest Milwaukee neighborhoods are on the outskirts, particularly on the city’s south side. University campuses (like Marquette and UW-Milwaukee) also tend to experience less crime, perhaps because of school-managed security personnel.
Another option is to explore Milwaukee’s many suburbs. The city doesn’t have a huge geographic spread, so the burbs are a quick commute from downtown. That said, Milwaukee has relatively few public transportation options, so your commute will likely be behind the wheel. Some of the best suburbs of Milwaukee in terms of safety include River Hills and Thiensville to the north, Merton and Wales to the west, Raymond and Yorkville to the south, and Muskego to the southwest.
See for yourself on this Milwaukee crime map where you’ll find the safest neighborhoods… and the most dangerous.
Most Dangerous Milwaukee Neighborhoods
Just as there are safer Milwaukee neighborhoods, there are also areas that warrant more caution. If you find yourself in one of these locations, keep your wits about you. According to AreaVibes, here are the top 10 worst neighborhoods in Milwaukee in terms of violent crime per capita.
- Metcalfe Park (55.5 violent crimes per 1,000 residents)
- North Division (53.4 per 1,000)
- Franklin Heights (49.8 per 1,000)
- Park West (49.3 per 1,000)
- Washington Park (44.1 per 1,000)
- Garden Homes (41.7 per 1,000)
- Borchert Field (41.2 per 1,000)
- Sherman Park (41.2 per 1,000)
- Saint Joseph (40.2 per 1,000)
- Concordia (39.8 per 1,000)
Each of these neighborhoods exceeds the Milwaukee crime rate by 150-250%. What’s more, not all suburbs are “safe” bets. Glendale, West Allis, West Milwaukee, and other immediately adjoining towns still experience higher-than-average crime.
That’s not to say that these are necessarily bad places to live. Relative crime rates are one of many factors you should consider when choosing a new home.
The Best Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Other Factors
Security is critical, but it’s probably not the only thing on your mind. When you’re choosing where to live, consider locations that are stand-outs for other reasons. Depending on what’s important for you and your family, here are some other Milwaukee neighborhoods and suburbs you might love.
Top-rated public schools (from Niche):
- Park Knoll
- Woodland Court
- Rolling Green
- Highwood Estates
- Red Oak Heights
- Nearby suburbs like Elm Grove/Brookfield, Thiensville, or Mequon
Walkability (from Walk Score):
- Juneau Town
- Lower East Side
- Yankee Hill
- Walker’s Point
Most diverse (from Niche):
- Little Menomonee Parkway
- Menomonee River Valley
- Merrill Park
- Menomonee River Hills
- Castle Manor
- Suburbs like Racine, Brown Deer, and West Milwaukee
Highest real estate appreciation (from NeighborhoodScout):
- Clock Tower Acres
- Kilbourn Town
- W Highland Ave / N 23rd St
- North Division
Lowest Cost of Living (from Niche):
- Franklin Heights
- Rufus King
- Historic Mitchell Street
- College Heights
- Suburbs like Lannon, Wind Point, and Big Bend
As you can see, there are plenty of great Milwaukee neighborhoods and suburbs. You’re sure to find somewhere you’ll love. The best area to stay in Milwaukee is whatever is right for you.
And no matter where you choose to live, it pays to follow some basic safety and security guidelines.
Staying Safe in Milwaukee
Crime can happen anywhere, so it’s best to take preventative safety measures. Here are some tips to prevent you from falling victim to a crime.
Consider your living space from a criminal’s perspective. Are there hiding spots or valuable items in plain sight? If so, change that. You can use Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles to make your home less appealing to criminals. This might include putting a fence around your yard, planting thorny bushes, installing floodlights, or any number of simple design changes.
Get to know your local police force and what crime prevention resources are available to you. The Milwaukee Police Department coordinates “Block Watch” programs to help neighbors look out for each other. In addition, the MPD’s Office of Community Outreach and Education takes a proactive, transformative approach by providing tools to build a safer community.
But most importantly, invest in home security cameras. Most cameras help catch criminals after the fact, but the right system can actually prevent crime. Deep Sentinel offers AI-powered cameras backed by live security monitoring and intervention with zero false alarms.
Don’t become part of the Milwaukee crime rate. Stay safe with Deep Sentinel.
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