Editorial: Of course small towns are safer to live in

Editorial Board • Jun 9, 2020 at 10:00 PM

You can’t beat small-town living, and the pandemic could make that bliss more attractive than the hustle, bustle and expense of the big city. Where might folks go? If they’re looking for a safe escape, how about places like Church Hill which, for the second consecutive year, has been deemed Tennessee’s safest city.

There are lots of reasons why small towns are luring an increasing number of families. They include a strong sense of community where people know each other and everyone’s a neighbor, where it’s cheaper to live with property taxes usually much lower, and where there’s less traffic and noise and cleaner air.

But most important is safety. We want to live where our kids can safely play outside, where our property is safe, and where we don’t have to worry about rampant crime. Small towns are much safer than big cities, and that’s why, with but one exception, the top 10 safest cities in Tennessee have populations less than 10,000.

The exception is Brentwood, growing faster than a weed with a population of 37,000 just 10 years ago but estimated at 43,000 last year. But Brentwood is an exception for good reason. An exclusive suburb of Nashville, which is seeing exploding growth, Brentwood is home to corporate CEOs and celebrities. Educationally, it’s about double the state’s average of adults with high school diplomas and college degrees.

The top 10 safest cities in Tennessee and their populations: Church Hill, 6,679; Cooperstown, 4,552; Signal Mountain, 8,567; Bean Station, 2,842; Belle Meade, 2,881; Loudon, 5,809; Oakland 6,640; Brentwood 43,000; Atoka, 9,397; and Pleasantview, 4,621.

Last year, the New York-based consumer review website Security Baron ranked Church Hill as the safest city in Tennessee based on FBI crime statistics from 2016 and 2017. Lest there be any doubt, this year Church Hill was named the state’s safest city by a different organization, home security product research and review website SafeWise, based on FBI property and violent crime statistics. Next door Mount Carmel, listed fifth safest in the 2016-17 Security Baron study, dropped to 16th safest in the 2018 SafeWise study.

Church Hill had a violent crime rate (VCR) of 1.8 per thousand in 2018, and a property crime rate (PCR) of 4.2 per thousand in 2018. That edged out SafeWise’s No. 2 safest Tennessee city, Coopertown, which matched Church Hill’s 1.8 VCR, but surpassed Church Hill with a 5.4 PCR.

“It’s nice to be recognized, and it’s nice to live and work in a safe place,” said Police Chief Chad Mosley. “I think it’s attributed to our residents. The residents we have here abide by the law themselves, so those stats can be attributed to them. A lot of those violent statistics are domestic related, so if our residents aren’t fighting with each other, that also helps.

“Violent crimes and property crimes are low here, and we hope they stay that way. It’s a good area to work and live in.”

No argument here. Church Hill may lead the way in safety, but there’s no arguing with the qualities that make all of Northeast Tennessee a great place to live. Those include mild weather with four seasons, the lower cost of living, and the unsurpassed beauty of where we live. Not many places can legitimately make such claims.

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