By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The crime statistics for Lebanon and Mt. Juliet rose in 2017, according to SafeWise, a professional review and comparison website that recently announced its list of the 20 safest cities in Tennessee for 2019.

Mt. Juliet dropped five points from the 2018 report, where it placed 14th. In 2019, the city ranked 19th on the list. Violent crimes consisted of 1.75 incidents per every 1,000 residents. The property crime rate was 17.75 per 1,000 residents. SafeWise based its statistics on the city’s 34,888 residents.

Lebanon was 85th, just below East Ridge and just above Dunlap. The violent crime rate in Lebanon was 7.07 per 1,000 residents, and the property crime rate was 29.12, per 1,000 residents.

The top 10 cities were Belle Meade, Pleasant View, Collegedale, Brentwood, Church Hill, Germantown, Loudon, Coopertown, Signal Mountain and Oakland.

Rounding out the top 20 were Nolensville, Bean Station, Collierville, Atoka, Sparta, Jonesboro, Maryville, Spring Hill, Mt. Juliet and Hendersonville.

“The Volunteer State’s safest cities seem to be full of citizens stepping up to keep their communities safe,” said report writer Rebecca Edwards. “Each of Tennessee’s safest cities had fewer than two incidents of violent crime per 1,000 people, but the state doesn’t do as well overall. Tennessee’s statewide violent crime rate of 9.07 is double the national rate of 4.49 crimes per 1,000.

“It doesn’t get much better when you add property crime to the mix. The state’s rate of 39.88 incidents per 1,000 isn’t double the national rate of 27.11, but it’s still remarkably high.”

To gather the information, SafeWise writers looked at the most up-to-date FBI crime data.

“This means we rely on information that cities across the country report through the FBI uniform crime reporting program, according to the SafeWise website. “We also use population thresholds for each state. We identify the median city population in each state and only report on cities with populations above the median. This reduces the risk of outliers and lowers the likelihood of an extreme outlier skewing the data.”

FBI UCR data is just one way cities report crime statistics, and “we know that it may differ from other reports a city submits. But, to make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples, we’ve chosen to use this data as the basis of our safest cities reporting. Plus, this is the most consistent report available for most cities across the nation,” the site said.
To identify the safest cities of 2019, SafeWise reviewed 2017 FBI crime report statistics – the most recent complete report available at the time of ranking – and population data. Cities that fell below identified populations thresholds – or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI – were excluded from the report.

“Our rankings are based on the number of reported violent crimes – aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery – in each city,” the site said. “If there was a tie, we also factored in the number of property crimes – burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. We give precedence to violent crime because it typically results in physical harm or injury, whereas property crime usually has an economic impact. While both are concerning, people are usually more afraid of violent crime, which directly impacts their feeling of safety.”

To level the playing field, SafeWise calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city.

“This makes it easier to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations,” the site said.

Among all 20 safest cities, one city had a property crime rate above the national average – Sparta, with 60 property crimes per 1,000, Edwards said. Every other city on the list had 22 or fewer incidents.

Seventy percent of the 2019 safest cities made the list for the second time, and the top two held their rankings year over year.

Eighty percent of the cities had no killings, 45 percent had no robberies, and 60 percent had no counts of arson.

Tennessee’s biggest concern was property crime, and 72 percent of State of Safety participants cited it as a top worry, versus 59 percent nationwide. Violent crime comes in second, with 65 percent naming it a primary concern.

Sixteen percent reported experiencing a property crime in the past year, which matched the national average.

Having someone break into their home is the highest concern among property crime offenses – 73 percent vs. 63 percent nationally. But it was relatively rare when actual reported crimes in the safest cities – three cities reported more than 60 burglaries – were considered, Edwards said. And burglary made up 11 percent of the total property crimes reported among the safest cities.