Friday, July 12, 2024

Crime rates in Tennessee’s 10 biggest cities, ranked


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Tennessee’s largest cities report crime data year-round to the FBI to inform the public about which counties have the highest crime rates.

Tennessee, with its rich music history and beautiful rural landscapes, attracts residents and visitors alike. Problems can arise when people come to densely populated cities without knowing what else to look out for.

But at the same time, misconceptions about crime statistics can stem from public panic, according to Middle Tennessee State University data journalism professor Ken Blake.

“When you look at crime cities, you have to keep in mind the context of those statistics and remember that a lot of different factors go into determining your risk of becoming a crime victim…many of them are within your control,” he said.

The 10 most heavily populated states were selected for this list. Data from the FBI Crime Data Explorer was used to calculate crime values over a six-year period.

“In 2022, there were 32,896 all violent crime incidents, and 44,261 offenses reported in Tennessee by 399 law enforcement agencies that submitted National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, and covers 100% of the total population,” according to the FBI Crime Data Explorer website.

Property crime is more common than violent crime, according to the Pew Research Center. FBI crime reports indicated property crime was the most prevalent type overall.

The top crime in every city over six years was larceny/theft. The highest crimes that followed were burglary, aggravated assault and motor theft.

This list ranks Tennessee’s largest cities by the highest average reported crime per capita from 2017 to 2022.

This graph shows the crime rates in Tennessee’s biggest 10 cities from 2017-2022. Graph by Hannah Carley.

#10 Franklin
Franklin maintains the lowest percentage of crime despite being larger than Jackson and Hendersonville. Franklin holds an average crime per capita of 1,237 crimes per 100,000 people, or 1.24%.

#9 Hendersonville
Hendersonville is the lowest-populated city on this list. Known for its location near Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville’s average crime per capita was 1,257 crimes per 100,000 people, or 1.26%.

#8 Clarksville
Clarksville’s proximity to the Cumberland River has contributed to its popularity. One of the more popular areas on this list, its population was 167,882 in 2022. Clarksville’s average crime per capita was 2,944 crimes per 100,000 people, or 2.94%.

#7 Murfreesboro
Murfreesboro is well known for its educational opportunities at MTSU. The college town is rooted in the history of the American Civil War. Murfreesboro’s average crime per capita was 2,999 crimes per 100,000 people, or 3%.

#6 Johnson City
Johnson City has numerous outdoor treasures, including its iconic landmarks, the Watauga River and Winged Deer Park. The average crime per capita was 4,018 crimes per 100,000 people, or 4.02%. While Murfreesboro’s population is larger than Johnson City’s by about 82,767, Johnson City holds 1.02% above Murfreesboro’s crime rate.

#5 Jackson
Jackson is famous for various transportation museums and renowned wineries. Jackson’s average crime per capita was 4,576 crimes per 100,000 people, or 4.58%. The city’s population is 67,993 — similar to Hendersonville but with a much higher crime rate.

#4 Nashville
Nashville is the most recognizable city in Tennessee. Many famous musicians’ careers thrived in “Music City.” The crime rate is relatively low, especially for its population density. Nashville is one of the safest on the list for its size. Its population is 709,786, and the average crime per capita was 4,895 crimes per 100,000 people, or 4.9%.

#3 Knoxville
“The Cradle of Country Music,” is the city that birthed Tennessee musician Dolly Parton. Knoxville’s average crime per capita was 5,209 crimes per 100,000 people, or 5.21%.

#2 Chattanooga
Chattanooga is near the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee River, admired for its picturesque landscape. Its population is 181,288, and the city’s average crime per capita was 7,056 crimes per 100,000 people, or 7.06%.

#1 Memphis
The largest calculated crime average was attributed to Memphis. The city’s crime rate was 8,340 crimes per 100,000 people per capita, or 8.34% overall. Aggravated assault was more common than burglary by a steeper margin than in other cities. There were 506 more aggravated assaults than burglaries per 100,000 people. This spike in violence can be attributed to the time frame of the pandemic. The Pew Research Center said COVID-19 facilitated an increase in homicide from 2019 to 2020 by 30%, one of the largest increases ever, according to the CDC and FBI.

Hannah Carley is a staff reporter for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Alyssa Williams and Assistant News Editor Zoe Naylor, email

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