Safest Cities in Tennessee – 2020

Last Updated on February 11, 2020

Higher than average crime rates in the large cities of Memphis and Nashville keep Tennessee out of the discussion of the country’s safest states, yet the Volunteer State is home to many municipalities with comfortingly low crime rates that are considerably below state and nationwide levels.

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Crime rate per 1,000
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Law enforcement per 1,000

Brentwood is Tennessee’s safest city. The affluent Nashville suburb is home to many country music stars and professional athletes, and boasts low crime rates that stand in contrast to the larger nearby city, including a violent crime rate of 0.8 per 1,000 and a property crime rate of 9.26 per 1,000.

#2 Germantown is a suburb of Memphis which received the 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for its performance excellence. The city’s violent crime rate is on par with #1 Brentwood’s, yet Germantown logged a slightly higher property crime rate of 15.44 per 1,000.

The 3rd safest city in Tennessee is Spring Hill, a city of 41K in the Nashville Metropolitan Area. Spring Hill achieved a violent crime rate of 1.04 per 1,000, along with a property crime rate of 10.78, in 2018.

Franklin, Tennessee’s 4th safest city, is by far the largest in the state’s top 5, with a population topping 80,000 that is nearly double that of the next largest entry. Known for its many historic buildings and neighborhoods dating back to the 19th century, Franklin boasts crime rates well below the averages for a city of its size.  

Rounding out the list of Tennessee’s five safest cities is Gallatin, a city of 38.4K that is home to several national company headquarters. While it’s violent crime rate of 3.15 per 1,000 is not terribly impressive, the city is boosted in the ranking by its well-staffed police force.

Tennessee’s Safest Cities

TNCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Brentwood43507354037943810.070.809.261.82
2Germantown391793060512763516.210.7715.443.24
3Spring Hill41354434465648911.821.0410.781.35
4Franklin80825119982143110113.621.4712.151.77
5Gallatin384501215389365917.143.1513.992.42
6Collegedale1218951812218615.260.4114.851.80
7Collierville509858386813695118.651.6317.022.67
8Hendersonville58437113914136102717.571.9315.642.33
9Maryville28961474806452718.201.6216.572.21
10Portland12887362273426320.412.7917.612.64
11Bartlett594071901119163130922.033.2018.842.74
12Mount Juliet36397726307470219.291.9817.312.03
13Martin10418272453827226.112.5923.523.65
14Lewisburg11967802163629624.736.6918.053.01
15Soddy-Daisy13804203163733624.341.4522.892.68
16Paris10088452833632832.514.4628.053.57
17Lebanon33181185940110112533.905.5828.333.32
18Oak Ridge290671647347989830.895.6425.252.72
19La Vergne361671578207597727.014.3422.672.07
20Goodlettsville17000785345761236.004.5931.413.35
21Bristol2686315185786100837.525.6231.903.20
22Red Bank11768522962234829.574.4225.151.87
23Manchester10719624013846343.195.7837.413.55
24Clinton10137564314148748.045.5242.524.04
25Clarksville15626410414514342555535.556.6628.892.19
26McMinnville13668864894157542.076.2935.783.00
27Shelbyville217081536575181037.317.0530.272.35
28Columbia38802246124694149238.456.3432.112.42
29Murfreesboro1407026134417292503035.754.3631.392.08
30Greeneville14867656365370147.154.3742.783.56
31Tullahoma193211066184272437.475.4931.992.17
32Alcoa10506825165159856.927.8149.114.85
33East Ridge211351007495084940.174.7335.442.37
34Sevierville16999928337192554.415.4149.004.18
35Springfield168961455303867539.958.5831.372.25
36Johnson City667952742622172289643.364.1039.252.58
37Jackson668486702866248353652.9010.0242.873.71
38Cookeville33785143141894156146.204.2341.972.78
39Crossville11535955384563354.888.2446.643.90
40Dickson156371337576189056.928.5148.413.90
41Elizabethton13657626804574254.334.5449.793.30
42Morristown29884242138892163054.548.1046.453.08
43Lawrenceburg10807675563762357.656.2051.453.42
44Metropolitan Nashville Police Department68649276412753717573517851.2411.1340.112.56
45Millington110161015864068762.369.1753.203.63
46Knoxville188653150888275021033554.787.9946.792.66
47Dyersburg1638220494365114770.0212.4557.563.97
48Kingsport534654042801140320559.957.5652.392.62
49Chattanooga1803971891109306011282171.0710.4860.593.33
50Memphis652226126744177926055445383.4919.4364.063.99
51Cleveland449544122512108292465.049.1655.882.40
52Athens13627119104332116285.278.7376.542.35

Methodology

To identify the safest cities, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and cities with populations under 10,000. This left 3,381 cities (out of a total of 9,251). 

There are two broad classifications of crimes: violent crimes and non-violent crimes. According to the FBI, “Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. ”

We computed the total number of crimes reported by each city by adding violent crimes and property crimes. We then created a crime rate as the number of crimes per 1,000 population. Then we transformed the total crime rate variable so that the skewness was reduced and normalized.

Data from 2,831 law enforcement agencies was then collected to determine police adequacy (TotalCrimes / Number of police employees).  We consider that the smaller the police adequacy statistic is, the safer the city is. This variable was also transformed and normalized.

Finally, the two variables were combined to create a safety score for each city.