Montana’s 10 Safest Cities of 2021

The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.

Safest Cities in Montana badge

Here are the 5 Safest Cities in Montana for 2021

1. Glendive
2. Dillon
3. Columbia Falls
4. Glasgow
5. Sidney

See if your city made the full list.

In our 2021 State of Safety survey, less than one-third of Montana residents (31%) expressed daily concern for their safety compared to nearly half of Americans (47%). Respondents also reported an increase in personal experiences with violent crime and gun violence year over year.

There was a notable increase in Montana's violent crime rate with only three of the safest cities coming in under the state average. All of the top five safest cities in Big Sky Country achieved property crime rates under the state average.

Only 3 in 10 Montanans worry about their safety on a daily basis despite violent crime rising 11% year over year.

2021 Montana crime rates

Montana experienced a sharp rise in violent crimes compared to last year with the violent crime rate jumping from 3.7 per 1,000 people to 4.0, the fourth-highest increase in the US. In contrast, the property crime rate had a steep drop from 25 per 1,000 to 21.9.

Of the eight states in the Mountain region, Montana had the fourth-highest violent crime rate (4.0) behind New Mexico (8.3), Nevada (4.9), and Arizona (4.6). With regard to property crime, The Treasure State had the fourth-lowest property crime rate (21.9) above Idaho (12.2), Wyoming (15.7), and Utah (21.7).

Montana's crime rates are just above average compared to the rest of the nation. Among all 50 states, Montana had the nineteenth-highest violent crime rate and the twenty-third-highest property crime rate.

Montana Safest Cities crime rates 2021 graphic

Level of concern and experience with crime in Montana

While Montanans worried more about their safety than last year, this reflects a larger trend across America after an uncertain year. Survey respondents cited fewer experiences with property crime this year but more encounters with violent and gun violence than the previous year.

Montana was one of five states where less than half of respondents (49% in this case) worried daily about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is notable, because 62% of Americans on average expressed a similar concern.

Crime concerns in Montana

We asked Montana residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if Montana residents are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.

Crimes that Montana is most concerned about graphic

*Percent of respondents concerned about this crime happening to them

View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.

Violent crime in Montana: Fear vs. reality

Despite an increase in reported violent crimes and survey respondents' personal experiences with them this year, around two-thirds of Montana residents feel safe in their state. Montanans also appear to have considerably lower concern for police and gun violence—and higher confidence in law enforcement than the national average.

  • 66% of Montanans reported feeling safe in their state compared to 55% of Americans.
  • 9% of people in Montana reported having a personal experience with violent crime in the last 12 months—up from 8% last year.
  • Murder is the least-common violent crime in Big Sky Country, making up just 0.6% of violent crimes (US 1%)—the state's 5 safest cities averaged 3%.
  • Rape accounts for 14.4% of violent crimes in Montana (US 8.2%) but the 5 safest cities come in with a slightly higher number of incidents at 16.2%.
  • 34% of survey respondents report using some form of personal protection—matching the US average.
  • 36% of Montana residents say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 44% of Americans.

Attitudes about police and gun violence in Montana

  • 40% of Montana residents cited gun violence as a top safety concern—noticeably lower than the US average of 53%.
  • 8% of survey respondents reported an experience with gun violence in the last 12 months, an increase from last year.
  • There were 2 mass shootings in Montana in 2019 and none in 2020.
  • 30% of Montanans worry about police violence daily—lower than the US average of 40%.
  • 61% of Montana residents reported having confidence in law enforcement. This is higher than the US average of 56%.
  • There were 19 officer-involved shootings in 2020, a 90% increase from 10 in 2019.

Violent crime rates 2019–2021

Violent crime rates in Montana graphic

Property crime in Montana: Fear vs. reality

Although Montana's property crime rate is higher than the national average, fewer residents reported personally experiencing property crime this year. Still, Montanans are more concerned about package theft and property crime happening to them than any type of violent crime but less concerned than the nation as a whole.

  • Fewer Montana residents (16%) reported personal experiences with property crime this year compared to last year (27%)—a decrease of over 40%.
  • Burglary accounts for 12% of all property crimes in Big Sky Country (the 5 safest cities average 17%), which is about a quarter less than the US rate of 16%.
  • 15% of participants reported experiencing package theft in the last 12 months, putting Montana well below the US average of 20%. This is the fourth-lowest in the country.
  • 49% of survey respondents use some form of property protection. This is below the 60% national average.
  • Montana's top form of property protection this year was firearms with 30% of survey respondents using them. This is higher than the 26% national average.
  • 24% of Montanans say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the security of their property—this is lower than the US average of 29%.

Property crime rates 2019–2021

property crime rates in Montana graphic

A closer look at the safest cities in Montana

For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.

  • Due to a lack of data for some cities compared to last year, we have only 5 top cities instead of 10.
  • Glendive kept the top spot for the second year in a row and had the lowest violent crime rate in the state with just 5 total violent crimes reported.
  • The remaining 4 top cities improved in rank this year compared with the previous year.
  • Sidney is new to our list this year after moving up 8 spots.
  • 3 cities had lower violent crime rates than the rest of Montana—Glendive, Dillon, and Columbia Falls.
  • Each of the safest cities reported 30 or fewer violent crimes.
  • There were 2 reported murders among the safest cities this year.
  • All 5 cities had property crime rates below the state average and reported fewer than 100 total property crimes each.
  • Dillon and Glendive each reported less than 15 property crimes and had the lowest property crime rates in the state by a wide margin.
  • Glasgow and Dillon both had the least amount of burglaries in Montana.
Safest Cities in Montana image

The 5 Safest Cities in Montana

Glendive, Montana, map image
#1
Glendive
(
-0-
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    4,964
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $50,681
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    1.0, 2.1, 1.5
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    2.8, 7.0, 17.8
Dillon, Montana, map image
#2
Dillon
(
+3
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    4,276
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $34,432
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    1.9, 3.7, 4.9
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    3.0, 6.1, 4.4
Columbia Falls, Montana map image
#3
Columbia Falls
(
+1
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    5,695
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $47,716
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    1.9, 1.5, 1.5
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    12.1, 15.4, 25.9
Glasgow, Montana, map image
#4
Glasgow
(
+6
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    3,334
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $62,300
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    4.2, 4.2, 4.1
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    10.5, 12.9, 15.4
Sidney, Montana, map image
#5
Sidney
(
+8
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    6,376
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $60,716
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    4.7, 6.5, 8.4
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021, 2020, 2019
    11.9, 13.7, 19.1

How we determined the safest cities

Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your city made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about home security. Learn more about your home security options—and find out which companies we recommend for every budget and lifestyle in our roundup of the Best Home Security Systems.

Didn't find your city in the top 5?

We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.

NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.

2021 Rank
City
Population
VC per 1,000Icon Tooltip  Dark
PC per 1000Icon Tooltip  Dark
6Belgrade9,2043.819.0
7Miles City8,3932.629.1
8Laurel6,7684.126.2
9Hamilton4,8793.730.3
10Kalispell24,4734.233.5
11Missoula75,4224.140.9
12Polson5,0755.138.8
13Helena32,8065.842.7
14Great Falls58,6375.258.1
15Cut Bank3,03811.837.5

Find the safest cities in each state

Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.

Related articles on SafeWise


Sources

FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.

Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.

SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.

Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.

For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over eight years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.