2016 Safest Places in Tennessee

by Susan Gulliford

The 6.6 million residents of The Volunteer State care about finding a safe place to call home. The team at ValuePenguin analyzed 90 communities with populations over 5,000 to determine the safest places in Tennessee. The crime scores ranged from 291 to 7,532; the average crime score for the state is 2,582.

The safest places were a mixture of affluent suburbs and middle-class towns. Instead of being concentrated in one part of the state, the safest communities were spread throughout Tennessee. You can review the full report here.

5 Safest Places in Tennessee

These cities have an average final crime score of 491, which is 81% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.

1. Signal Mountain

This small (population of 8,517) suburb is eight miles from Chattanooga at the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau. Despite its small size, the town has a police department of 15 full-time officers. The result is that Signal Mountain achieved the lowest rate of violent and property crime for any Tennessee community in this study. The town had a median household income 2.2 times the median household income for Tennessee overall, a very low rate of poverty. Plus, over 66% of the adult residents held at least a bachelor’s degree.   

2. Brentwood

With a population of over 40,000, this Nashville suburb is the largest community in the top five. The police department is no stranger to awards for excellence; in 2011, it achieved the CALEA Gold Standard Award. Brentwood had the second-lowest rate of violent crime and the third-lowest rate of property. This city is very affluent. Brentwood’s median household income was over three times the Tennessee median, and the median home value was nearly $488,000.  

3. Oakland

This small town (population of 7,229) is a 40-minute drive from Memphis. The police department allows residents to email them anonymously about crime in the area. This fast-growing community -- its population was up 13% from the 2010 census -- stays safe. It had six violent crimes reported in 2014, and Oakland had the fifth-lowest level of property crime overall. Oakland is a middle-class community with a median household income of $66,981 and median home values close to the median for Tennessee.  

4. Nolensville

Nolensville’s motto is, "Community, History, Proximity." This town of 6,295 is approximately 23 miles from Nashville. The police department enlists the community’s help through Community Watch and Business Watch programs. The result is that crime remains low even as the town experiences rapid growth, nearly 18% since the last census. In addition to a low rate of violent crime, Nolensville had the fourth-lowest rate of property crime. The town had a median household income 2.3 times the median for Tennessee and a very high rate (over 92%) of owner-occupied homes. 

5. Loudon

Loudon is the smallest community (population of 5,785) in the top five. It is approximately a 40-minute drive from Knoxville. Due to Loudon’s small size, the City of Loudon Police Department handles law enforcement duties. The town had six violent crimes in 2014 and a low rate of property crime. Loudon is a working class town with a median household income lower than the median for Tennessee. 

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 5,000 and 10,000, midsize cities with populations between 10,000 and 25,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 25,000. Here are our findings:

Tennessee Top 10

Full List of Places in Tennessee

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Tennessee” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.

Rank City Crime Score
1 Signal Mountain  291
2 Brentwood  488
3 Oakland  496
4 Nolensville  555
5 Loudon  624
6 Atoka  651
7 Germantown  655
8 Spring Hill  658
9 Jonesborough  743
10 Mount Carmel  907
11 Millersville  914
12 Collegedale  929
13 Franklin  953
14 Fairview  968
15 Hendersonville  990
16 Erwin  991
17 Collierville  1,048
18 Church Hill  1,096
19 Greenbrier  1,132
20 White House  1,141
21 Mount Juliet  1,207
22 Gallatin  1,216
23 Martin  1,288
24 Maryville  1,296
25 Bartlett  1,320
26 Henderson  1,367
27 Munford  1,445
28 Kingston  1,463
29 Soddy-Daisy  1,476
30 La Vergne  1,693
31 Smyrna  1,757
32 McKenzie  1,867
33 Dunlap  2,039
34 Portland  2,073
35 Winchester  2,267
36 Clinton  2,292
37 Goodlettsville  2,315
38 Shelbyville  2,332
39 Dayton  2,335
40 Bristol  2,420
41 Johnson City  2,451
42 Harriman  2,581
43 Lenoir City  2,604
44 Jefferson City  2,622
45 Red Bank  2,674
46 Tullahoma  2,674
47 Paris  2,684
48 Sparta  2,691
49 Columbia  2,693
50 Milan  2,703
51 Cookeville  2,735
52 Greeneville  2,749
53 Millington  2,756
54 Sweetwater  2,770
55 Murfreesboro  2,782
56 Sevierville  2,816
57 Lebanon  2,824
58 Clarksville  2,904
59 Pulaski  2,980
60 McMinnville  3,038
61 Elizabethton  3,095
62 Manchester  3,293
63 Rockwood  3,326
64 East Ridge  3,356
65 Humboldt  3,367
66 Morristown  3,391
67 Bolivar  3,438
68 Pigeon Forge  3,450
69 Union City  3,455
70 Dickson  3,481
71 Kingsport  3,482
72 Fayetteville  3,493
73 Alcoa  3,500
74 Savannah  3,651
75 Lawrenceburg  3,693
76 Springfield  3,703
77 La Follette  3,990
78 Brownsville  4,168
79 Jackson  4,271
80 Cleveland  4,366
81 Ripley  4,713
82 Nashville  4,719
83 Athens  4,784
84 Crossville  4,842
85 Knoxville  5,277
86 Chattanooga  5,338
87 Newport  5,463
88 Dyersburg  5,576
89 Covington  5,730
90 Memphis  7,532

Year-over-year change

The 2016 results were extremely consistent with 2015. The exact same cities and towns made the top five in both years. Only the order of the top five changed from year to year.

There was also remarkable consistency within the size categories. Every small community in the top ten this year was in the top ten for 2015. Nine of the ten safest large cities in 2016 were in the top last year too. Only the mid-size category experienced much year-over-year change; seven out of the top ten communities this year were among the safest places in 2015.

You can review last year’s report here.

Tennessee

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 5,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

Rank City Population Violent
Crime per 100K
Property
Crime per 100K
Crime Score
73 Alcoa 8,689 737 5,939 3,500
83 Athens 13,640 1,151 6,965 4,784
6 Atoka 8,926 157 1,019 651
25 Bartlett 58,529 268 1,697 1,320
67 Bolivar 5,199 1,327 3,943 3,438
2 Brentwood 40,757 47 871 488
40 Bristol 26,603 459 3,635 2,420
78 Brownsville 9,957 1,446 4,640 4,168
86 Chattanooga 174,449 974 6,287 5,338
18 Church Hill 6,782 295 1,681 1,096
58 Clarksville 144,639 669 2,954 2,904
80 Cleveland 43,135 858 5,988 4,366
36 Clinton 9,924 524 3,638 2,292
12 Collegedale 9,889 71 2,043 929
17 Collierville 47,757 153 1,629 1,048
49 Columbia 35,760 621 3,431 2,693
51 Cookeville 31,257 400 4,485 2,735
89 Covington 9,060 1,898 6,887 5,730
84 Crossville 11,339 847 8,555 4,842
39 Dayton 7,446 282 4,902 2,335
70 Dickson 15,022 732 5,405 3,481
33 Dunlap 5,112 352 4,088 2,039
88 Dyersburg 16,970 1,273 8,091 5,576
64 East Ridge 21,478 759 4,712 3,356
61 Elizabethton 14,375 410 5,802 3,095
16 Erwin 6,069 264 1,565 991
14 Fairview 8,160 355 1,054 968
72 Fayetteville 7,201 972 5,166 3,493
13 Franklin 70,485 140 1,405 953
22 Gallatin 32,756 317 1,423 1,216
7 Germantown 39,495 78 1,112 655
37 Goodlettsville 17,034 346 4,086 2,315
19 Greenbrier 6,694 373 1,464 1,132
52 Greeneville 15,011 553 4,370 2,749
42 Harriman 6,234 642 4,235 2,581
26 Henderson 6,528 352 2,175 1,367
15 Hendersonville 54,728 179 1,374 990
65 Humboldt 8,391 965 4,719 3,367
79 Jackson 67,869 1,081 4,513 4,271
44 Jefferson City 8,211 475 4,798 2,622
41 Johnson City 65,541 369 3,611 2,451
9 Jonesborough 5,202 173 1,307 743
71 Kingsport 53,010 602 4,963 3,482
28 Kingston 5,843 565 1,626 1,463
85 Knoxville 184,362 874 6,524 5,277
77 La Follette 7,203 1,000 6,345 3,990
30 La Vergne 34,430 502 1,722 1,693
75 Lawrenceburg 10,448 881 5,666 3,693
57 Lebanon 28,963 760 3,290 2,824
43 Lenoir City 9,058 397 4,990 2,604
5 Loudon 5,785 104 1,245 624
62 Manchester 10,296 748 5,216 3,293
23 Martin 11,330 256 2,154 1,288
24 Maryville 28,116 135 2,372 1,296
32 McKenzie 5,647 372 3,489 1,867
60 McMinnville 13,683 935 3,603 3,038
90 Memphis 654,922 1,741 5,988 7,532
50 Milan 7,757 632 4,422 2,703
11 Millersville 6,605 288 1,241 914
53 Millington 11,095 496 4,831 2,756
66 Morristown 29,401 650 4,990 3,391
10 Mount Carmel 5,480 401 821 907
21 Mount Juliet 29,104 213 1,852 1,207
27 Munford 6,046 413 2,167 1,445
55 Murfreesboro 119,005 534 3,347 2,782
82 Nashville 647,689 1,122 3,631 4,719
87 Newport 6,924 1,040 10,066 5,463
4 Nolensville 6,295 127 953 555
3 Oakland 7,229 83 954 496
47 Paris 10,166 423 5,007 2,684
68 Pigeon Forge 6,075 593 6,749 3,450
34 Portland 12,111 586 2,733 2,073
59 Pulaski 7,590 632 5,152 2,980
45 Red Bank 11,872 564 4,304 2,674
81 Ripley 8,392 1,871 4,528 4,713
63 Rockwood 5,435 497 6,918 3,326
74 Savannah 7,134 575 7,177 3,651
56 Sevierville 16,321 558 4,454 2,816
38 Shelbyville 20,858 638 2,848 2,332
1 Signal Mountain 8,517 12 693 291
31 Smyrna 43,823 308 2,553 1,757
29 Soddy-Daisy 13,170 228 2,673 1,476
48 Sparta 5,145 194 6,472 2,691
8 Spring Hill 33,472 111 1,013 658
76 Springfield 16,696 1,000 4,768 3,703
54 Sweetwater 5,924 675 4,642 2,770
46 Tullahoma 18,887 561 4,008 2,674
69 Union City 10,707 560 6,332 3,455
20 White House 10,863 193 2,053 1,141
35 Winchester 8,530 621 3,283 2,267

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