CHURCH HILL / MOUNT CARMEL — Church Hill has been named the safest city in the entire state of Tennessee, with Mount Carmel coming in fifth place.

“We’re honored that we got that award,” Church Hill Police Chief Chad Mosley said. “Everyone at the Police Department and the BMA are so proud of it. We have a great town to work and live in.”

“We are extremely proud to be number five in the state,” Mount Carmel Police Chief Ken Lunsford, Jr. added. “To be in the top five or ten is a great honor. We as police are rarely thanked for our work or really feel like our work makes a difference until to see stats like this. Then we know that all the long hours, lack of sleep, time away from our families, the sweat, blood and tears actually paid off and means something.”

This ranking is according to Security Baron, which is a “consumer-focused website dealing in matters of security,” as their site reads. Their rankings can be found at https://securitybaron.com/safe-cities/tennessee/.

Though both cities have been ranked towards the top of the charts in the past, neither had achieved first place until now.

Measuring crimeThis site used the FBI’s 2017 and 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting data to give each Tennessee city a ‘safety score,’ which measures the number of violent crimes and property crimes per 1,000 people against the population and number of households.

Church Hill boasts a safety score of 89.11. That breaks down to a population of 6,739 and 2,817 households. The number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents is only 0.74, and the number of property crimes per 1,000 residents is 4.01.

The site also noted that Church Hill’s rate of violent crime came down 1.05 points and property crime 0.16 since the site’s last data release.

Mount Carmel’s fifth place safety score is 84.7, with a population of 5,427 and 2,172 households. The town saw 2.4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 8.11 property crimes.

The town’s violent crime did rise by 0.56 points since the last data release, as did property crime by 1.29 points; however, this is still far lower than most Tennessee cities.

For reference, the site named Newport as the least safe city in the state, with a safety score of 17.12. That breaks down to a population of 6,816, 14.67 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 90.23 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

Other Hawkins Co. towns such as Rogersville, Surgoinsville and Bean Station did not make the list, as the site only measured crime for towns with a population of over 5,000 people.

Keeping residents safe in Church Hill“In the end, it takes good police officers working in our area, and it takes good residents from the town to achieve this,” Mosley said. “We hope our presence in the town deters crime. We are also able to patrol more now because we are back up to full staff.”

Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal credited the city’s status to the diligent work of the city police force.

“In the City of Church Hill, we have formed the ability to be safe because of our police officers,” Deal said. “We’ve always been supportive of our policemen, and we’re very proud of them.”

Deal also explained that Church Hill police officers, along with members of the public works and sewer department double as firemen, as the city has no full-time firemen.

“They carry two rows on their belt, and that’s a big deal,” he said. “The reason that we put that in place years ago is because they work 24/7, so they’re here when we’re home asleep. So, each policeman knows that, if they get called at 2 a.m., he needs to get a truck and get to the scene.”

He went on to credit their life-saving abilities, explaining that an off-duty police officer responded to a call and saved a man’s life a few years ago. Several members of the police force and fire department were also recently honored at October’s BMA meeting for saving a man from his burning home in August.

Deal went on to say that each member of the city’s police force is held to a high standard.

“We have rules in place, and, when we hire a police officer, we are very adamant about supporting those rules,” Deal said. “If we get someone who doesn’t follow the guidelines, we deal with that very swiftly. But we have not had anything like that in a long time.”

Both Deal and Mosley agreed that a supportive relationship between the police force and the BMA contributes to the city’s safety.

A new force in Mount Carmel“It comes down to two things: the officers and, more importantly, the community in which we strive to serve,” Lunsford said of the town’s status. “We have a great little town. Most cities and towns have a community watch in some neighborhoods, but we have an entire town. Our citizens understand that, if they see something, say something. They have done this for years. We patrol heavily but can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where the citizens come in. It’s like having a police department with over 5000 officers.”

Though many police officers in the town are new, the team is clearly headed in the right direction.

“We pretty much have a brand-new police department, except for two veterans,” Lunsford explained. “When I came aboard, we began to hire new policeman. Some worked out, and some did not and left, but I am confident in the new team we have built. This new police department is hungry, professional and caring. We all now love to come to work every day and serve our community. Our officers are pro-active in patrol — last month alone our department drove over 6000 miles. That’s a lot of driving in Mount Carmel. We are very heavy into traffic enforcement, which does not mean tickets. We are not here to write tickets, we are trying to be seen, which does tend to make people follow the law and drive safely. I don’t care if my officers write another ticket—the goal is to create a safe driving environment.”

Maintaining and moving forward“I hope that we can maintain this status,” Mosley added. “It will be tough because there are some factors that we just can’t predict. But, we’re going to keep our patrol up and keep doing the things that we’ve been doing.”

As for Mount Carmel, Lunsford explained that he, too, would love to see the town maintain their standing or even become number one in the state.

“We are going to take it slow and try to move up in the ranks,” he said. “Nothing is done overnight.”