Murfreesboro has lowest violent crime rate of largest Tennessee cities, according to 2017 FBI report


Police and emergency crews on the seen of a shots fired call at Campus Villa apartments in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Saturday, April 2, 2016. (MTSU Sidelines / John Connor Coulston)

Photo by John Conner Coulston / MTSU Sidelines Archive

Data shows that Murfreesboro has the lowest violent crime rate of all the largest Tennessee cities, according to the 2017 Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics released by the FBI.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program explains that “violent crime is made up of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.”

The semiannual report displays all the crime data that local law enforcement agencies provided to the FBI from January to June of 2017. The data shows offenses reported to law enforcement by cities with over 100,000 in population. In Tennessee, these cities are Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville and Murfreesboro. Nashville is the most populated of these cities, and Murfreesboro is the least with 129,730 residents as of 2016.

“We’ve really put an emphasis on our proactive policing, specifically around the university,” Shane McFarland, the mayor of Murfreesboro, told Sidelines. “I think (the low crime level) has to do with a collaborative effort between the police department, the city, the university and all of the key players here in the community.”

The only city with lower statistics regarding crime displayed in the report is Clarksville, and those numbers are in non-violent crimes. Clarksville has slightly lower reports of larceny-theft, property crime and robbery when compared to Murfreesboro. 

McFarland explained that residents can take little, extra steps to combat criminals when it comes to property crime if Murfreesboro wants to get lower numbers than Clarksville. These steps include making sure vehicles and houses are locked and secured.

The mayor explained that Murfreesboro has also been ramping up police patrols, and that may factor into the city’s overall low crime statistics. Last year, it was reported that a series of shootings sparked a conversation about how the city can take certain steps and develop strategies to combat crime. One of the strategies discussed was to provide MTSU Police with more authority in assisting Murfreesboro Police outside of campus. McFarland also gave credit to an overall rise in police staff numbers as being a factor for Murfreesboro’s low-crime rate.

“We’ve brought on a significant number of new police officers,” McFarland said. “I think it’s like with anything. As the community grows, we have to be able to have our staffing levels grow as well.”

According to the mayor, new and seasoned officers have been receiving more equipment and constantly undergoing new forms of training. There is also a new police headquarters in Murfreesboro opening soon, and he expressed that, from a resource standpoint, the city is doing everything possible to keep up with what’s happening.

“As a growing city, you’ve got opportunities that you continue to work on, but I think it just goes to show that Murfreesboro continues to be a safe place to live,” McFarland said.

Murfreesboro Police Public Information Officer Amy Norville said that she feels the low crime rate in Murfreesboro can be attributed to the residents of the city, as well as the city’s police officers.

“We work with all kinds of agencies, both law enforcement and other departments, to have a kind of crime prevention mindset,” Norville said.

According to Norville, that mindset includes being able to partner with Murfreesboro citizens, agencies and city programs. A major partnership, Norville said, that plays a huge role in crime prevention is the collaboration between Murfreesboro Police and MTSU Police in patrolling around the off-campus area. This collaboration was created in order to prevent crimes and came after MTSU President Sidney McPhee signed an agreement back in September of last year.

Norville also gave credit to programs like the Park Smart campaign, an initiative to educate residents on how to properly secure their vehicles, the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program that will be launching this year to work with apartment complexes around town and an overall approach to partner with Murfreesboro citizens.

The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program is a three-phase program in which local police will work with tenants by providing free educational training, onsite property reviews from a crime prevention standpoint and will get landlords to involve their residents in crime prevention training. 

“We can’t be everywhere,” Norville said. “So, we have to depend on our citizens to let us know what’s going on.”

In today’s climate, civilians may be wary to trust law enforcement, but Norville wanted to ensure Murfreesboro residents that they can put their trust in local officers.

“Most of our police officers are residents of the city, too,” Norville said. “We are just people that come to work, and we want Murfreesboro to be as safe as possible for our own families as well as all the other citizens.”

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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