Tennessee’s largest cities rank poorly for safety

Published 5:45 pm Monday, October 10, 2022

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The Center Square

Personal finance website WalletHub rated the safest American cities and all four of Tennessee’s largest ranked near the bottom.

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Knoxville was Tennessee’s highest-ranked city at 112th. Nashville was 121st. Chattanooga was 173rd, with Memphis 177th.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, rated the nation’s 182 largest cities on 42 metrics, including COVID-19 vaccination rates, crime, vulnerability to natural disasters, per capita number of first responders (police, fire and emergency medical services) and financial safety, which includes the unemployment rate, poverty rate and foreclosure rate.

Memphis was penalized by its 182nd ranking for financial safety and 173rd-worst ranking for home and personal safety, but was helped a bit by its No. 85 ranking for vulnerability to natural disasters. It was also tied with four other cities for most number of traffic deaths per capita nationally, tied with four other cities for the number of assaults per capita, and was ranked dead last nationally for percentage of households with emergency personal savings.

Chattanooga was two spots worse than Memphis for home and personal safety and rated more vulnerable to natural disasters (109th) while having a poor ranking of 125th for financial safety.

Nashville was ranked 122nd for personal safety, 115th for natural disaster risk and 77th for financial safety.

Knoxville is No. 118 for personal safety, 78th for national disaster risk and 135th for its financial safety score.

Keith Boeckelman is a professor of political science at Western Illinois University. He says that community policing, a practice where law enforcement officers are walking a beat instead of riding in a car, can increase public trust.

“In this model, the police are viewed less as crime responders and as more of a community resource. They are in the community, getting to know residents, business people, etc., and understanding their problems,” Boeckelman said. “This model can improve response time to crimes, as well as prevent them in some cases.

“Representation is important, as well, as community policing will work better when the police look like the neighborhoods they are patrolling.”

St. Louis was ranked the nation’s least safe city in the analysis. Also at the bottom were Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit; and Baton Rouge, La.

Columbia, Md. was rated the safest city in the U.S., with Nashua, N.H.; Laredo, Texas; Portland, Maine; and Warwick, R.I. rounding out the top five.