This Town in Missouri State Takes the Crown for Most Violent

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Written By Ryan Johnson






When people think of violent crime in the United States, they might imagine big cities like Chicago, Detroit, or Baltimore. But according to the latest FBI data, the most violent town in Missouri is not St. Louis, Kansas City, or Springfield. It is a small community of less than 5,000 people in the southwest corner of the state: Branson West.

What makes Branson West so violent?

Branson West is a town in Stone County, Missouri, with a population of 4,768 as of 2020. It has a violent crime rate of 2,949 per 100,000 people, which is more than 11 times the national average of 250 per 100,000. This means that one in every 34 residents of Branson West was a victim of a violent crime in 2020, such as murder, rape, robbery, or assault.

The causes of Branson West’s high crime rate are not clear, but some possible factors are:

Tourism: Branson West is located near the popular tourist destination of Branson, which attracts millions of visitors every year. Tourism can bring economic benefits, but also social problems, such as increased traffic, noise, pollution, and crime. Tourists may be targeted by criminals, or may engage in criminal activities themselves, such as drug use, drunkenness, or disorderly conduct.

Drugs: Branson West is situated along Highway 76, which is a major route for drug trafficking and distribution in the region. Drug trafficking and addiction can fuel violence, as dealers and users compete for territory, money, and supplies. Drugs can also impair judgment, lower inhibitions, and increase aggression among offenders and victims.

Poverty: Branson West has a poverty rate of 22.7%, which is higher than the state average of 13.2%. Poverty is often linked to crime, as it creates stress, desperation, and lack of opportunities for people. Poverty can also limit access to education, health care, and social services, which can prevent people from escaping the cycle of crime and violence.

Policing: Branson West has a small and understaffed police department, with only eight officers to serve the entire town. This means that the police have limited resources and capacity to prevent, respond, and investigate crimes. It also means that the residents have low trust and confidence in the police, which can reduce their willingness to cooperate and report crimes.

How does Branson West compare to other towns in Missouri?

Branson West is not the only town in Missouri that has a high crime rate. According to the FBI data, there are 15 other towns in the state that have a violent crime rate above 1,000 per 100,000 people. Here are the top five most violent towns in Missouri, along with their population and crime rate:

Town Population Violent Crime Rate
Branson West 4,768 2,949
St. Louis 300,576 1,995
Jennings 14,644 1,980
Riverview 2,855 1,895
Pine Lawn 3,275 1,831


As you can see, most of these towns are small and rural, with populations below 15,000. This contradicts the common perception that crime is more prevalent in urban areas. In fact, some studies have found that rural areas have higher rates of violent crime than urban areas, especially for crimes such as rape and domestic violence.

What can be done to reduce violence in Branson West?

Reducing violence in Branson West is not an easy task, as it requires addressing the underlying social, economic, and cultural factors that contribute to crime. Some possible solutions are:

Enhancing tourism management: Tourism can be a source of income and development for Branson West, but it can also bring negative impacts. The town should implement strategies to manage tourism effectively, such as regulating the number and behavior of visitors, improving the infrastructure and facilities, and promoting the local culture and heritage. Tourism can also be used to create jobs, support businesses, and fund community projects, which can improve the quality of life and reduce crime.

Combating drug abuse: Drugs are a major driver of violence in Branson West, and the town should take measures to prevent and treat drug abuse. The town should work with the state and federal authorities to crack down on drug trafficking and distribution, and to provide alternative livelihoods for drug dealers and users. The town should also increase the availability and accessibility of drug prevention and treatment programs, such as education, counseling, rehabilitation, and recovery.

Alleviating poverty: Poverty is a root cause of crime in Branson West, and the town should take steps to alleviate poverty and its effects. The town should provide more opportunities and support for education, employment, and entrepreneurship, especially for the youth, women, and minorities. The town should also improve the provision and delivery of health care, social services, and public assistance, especially for the low-income, elderly, and disabled.

Strengthening policing: Policing is a key component of crime prevention and control in Branson West, and the town should strengthen its police force and its relationship with the community. The town should increase the number and training of police officers, and equip them with the necessary tools and technology. The town should also encourage the participation and cooperation of the residents in reporting and solving crimes, and foster a culture of trust and respect between the police and the public.


Branson West is the most violent town in Missouri, and one of the most violent towns in the country. The town faces multiple challenges and risks related to crime and violence, such as tourism, drugs, poverty, and policing. The town needs to address these issues holistically and comprehensively, with the involvement and collaboration of all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, the civil society, and the residents. By doing so, Branson West can transform itself from a town of violence to a town of peace and prosperity.

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