Police Chief: study naming Athens #2 most dangerous city is misl - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police Chief: study naming Athens #2 most dangerous city is misleading

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) - Police in Athens are calling a recent study that named the city one of Tennessee's most dangerous "misleading."

A recent crime report was put out by a private company that sells home security alarm systems. It named Crossville, Athens, Memphis, Dyersburg, and Knoxville among those with the highest crime rates. It includes both violent and property crimes.

"It's a private organization gathering numbers and making their own report outside of law enforcement," said Athens Police Chief Charles Ziegler.

The website HomeSecurityShield.net divided FBI crime data from 2012 and combined violent and property crimes per capita. It claims Athens is the second most dangerous city in the state.

"The FBI and TBI strongly discourage trying to compare cities on raw data," Ziegler said.

The TBI published updated crime stats earlier this year. In a statement from TBI Director Mark Gwyn, he said many factors outside of law enforcement's control contribute to the nature of crimes.

"Crime varies from place to place," Gwyn said, "and ranking the agencies based solely on numbers would neither be fair to the agencies nor their communities."

"My car stereo has been stolen out of my truck, and things like that," said Teresa Smythe, a lifelong resident of Athens.

"You don't like the idea of somebody taking your stuff when you work hard for it, but it happens," she said. "You go with the flow, and as long as no lives are taken, we're all right."

In the past 10 years, Athens police investigated 8 homicides. Chattanooga police investigated 19 homicides in 2013 alone.

"We feel like we do have a safe community," Chief Ziegler said. "You're never free from crime. But if people will pay attention to their surroundings and be careful, then Athens is a safe place to be."

Although the number of crimes are always higher in more populated areas, TBI data shows someone would have a 20% chance of being a victim of a crime in Athens versus a 13% chance in Chattanooga and Cleveland.

To view TBI's 2013 Crime in Tennessee Report, click here.
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