Loudon among 20 safest cities

Vehicles pass through downtown Loudon, which was recently named one of the safest cities in Tennessee.

Loudon has been named one of the top 20 safest cities in Tennessee for another year.

SafeWise ranked Loudon sixth, one spot over last year’s report. The website contextualizes national crime and safety trends to show how they impact residents.

Reports are constructed using the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program and U.S. Census Bureau population data. This year’s ranking was based off 2018 FBI crime report statistics, which are the most recent available.

The ranking didn’t surprise Loudon officials.

“I feel like that we are all very fortunate here in Loudon County and in the city of Loudon because overall we all live in a safe community,” James “Bear” Webb, Loudon police chief, said. “... I give credit to the people in this community. Like whenever we get recognition each year because you know we’re always in the top 10 safest cities in the state, well you know I always give recognition to the people that live here. It’s not just the police officers that are working hard to make it a safe community.

“I think that the general public that live here and work here, they desire to have a safe community, and we just have good folks that live here in this community,” he added. “We have a lot of support from this police department, and it takes us all together to provide a good, safe community and make sure that the end of product is something that we all desire.”

According to the report, in the past 12 months, 17 percent of Tennessee residents have experienced violent crime, 29 percent property crime and 10 percent were impacted by a mass shooting. The state reported “much higher levels of concern about safety” — 33 percent higher — than the national average, according to the report. Personal experience with crime increased, but property and violent crime rates went down.

The report notes Tennessee’s violent crime rate is 6.2 incidents per 1,000 people, which decreased from last year’s 6.6, but is higher than the national rate of 3.7. The property crime rate is 28.3 incidents per 1,000, which is also a decrease from last year’s 29.5.

The safest cities in Tennessee had a lower violent crime rate than the state average.

Since 2018, Loudon has seen a gradual decline in violent crimes, which came in at 0.7 instances per 1,000 people. Property crimes dropped from 13.6 to 8.1 per 1,000 people this year.

“It’s a tribute to our police department and our police chief,” Jeff Harris, Loudon mayor, said. “One big attribute I think our police officers have is I mean this is their community. A lot of them grew up here, are well invested into the community through sports and other activities. They interact with a lot of the local citizens on all different levels and I think they take a lot of pride in that. It’s not just a job to them. It’s something that they’ve invested their life into and they want to make sure that that gets protected.”

Councilman Tim Brewster said he was proud of Loudon.

“We got a nice little city,” he said. “We got to take care of our city and our police and firemen that make us that way with all their help.”

Brewster said he would like the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce and Loudon County Visitors Bureau to promote safe city reports for Loudon.

Reports like the one from SafeWise could make a difference in someone deciding to relocate or visit Loudon, Harris said.

“I think it could be a deciding factor for some people because you don’t know the environment that they’re coming from when they look at Loudon, so you don’t know what situation they’re involved in currently where they may live,” he said. “I’m sure that Loudon is a draw just from the beauty and everything, the scenery that we have here and all that, and I think the safety is just something that probably is a deciding factor a lot of times when they decide to relocate.”