Residents of Cumberland County received a shock last week after reading a report that surfaced on the internet purporting the 17 most dangerous cities in Tennessee – at the top of that list was Crossville.
The report, sponsored by a company that sells home security systems, claims the figures came from the latest FBI uniform crime report. However, their figures seem rather questionable. Chattanooga, for instance, was not included in their analysis.
"Our rankings are based solely on the data publicly release each year by the FBI," the website states. "A crime is a crime, so we took both violent and property crimes into account when compiling our list of Tennessee's most dangerous cities."
To be clear, property crime only involves the taking of money or property and does not involve force or threat of force against a victim. Vandalism also constitutes property crime, though one would be hard pressed to consider it "dangerous." Most of the crime in Cumberland County stems from shoplifting and theft of prescription drugs.
Public Safety Chief Randy Hoover addressed the membership at the annual meeting of the Fairfield Glade Community Club to calm the fears sparked by the dubious report.
"As far as the statistics that have been discussed here, as far as crime is concerned, I don't know where the statistics came from," said Hoover. "I do know that Fairfield Glade is a very safe place. We have very low crime. I have the figures to show that."
Chief Hoover releases monthly and yearly crime reports during public safety meetings held on the second Monday of each month. Year-to-date statistics for Fairfield Glade include 11 burglary reports, 50 theft reports, 37 vehicle collisions, 245 alarm calls and 17 Architectural Control Committee violations.
"You've got to remember," said Hoover, "when you're dealing with statistics, statistics are only as good as people putting it in and the way you count your statistics. We report things in Fairfield Glade most departments wouldn't even think of reporting. But there again, we make sure that we do the best job we can to make you safe in Fairfield Glade."
The Fairfield Glade Public Safety Office employs 11 officers that provide 24/7 protection. Each of these officers are graduates of the police academy, undergo 40 hours of in-service training and eight hours of firearm training annually, which meets or exceeds all police standards in Tennessee. Further, these officers do more than typical police officers. Year-to-date they have conducted 4,975 home security checks and have responded to 545 ambulance calls, as well as 424 calls for resident assistance.
"I can assure you that Fairfield Glade is not the same figures as Crossville city or Cumberland County," said Hoover. "Our conviction rate and our arrest rates are very high according to the crime that's being committed. So, not to tell you that we're exempt from crime in Fairfield Glade, because we're not, but if you'll look, when crime is committed, there's an arrest made most of the time."
Residents are still encouraged to remain vigilant. In order to help keep crime low, neighborhood watch groups have been established in several neighborhoods. For additional information on the Fairfield Glade Neighborhood Watch Coalition, call Tom Covino at 707-9314 or 335-6758.
Chief Hoover also encourages concerned residents to come by the Public Safety Office with any questions. "My office is always open," he said.
According to Chief Hoover, there has been one homicide in the history of Fairfield Glade, of which a suspect was quickly arrested and is currently on trial. According to statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there were 124 murders in Memphis last year. Crossville had zero, yet somehow the report in question ranked it above Memphis as one of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee. As such, TBI policies do not allow the agency to rank cities according to crime data because incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions which adversely affect residents.
"I don't know of a safer community anywhere than Fairfield Glade," said Hoover.