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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
Crime per 100K
Crime per 100K