Memphis lies in the far southwest corner of Tennessee. It is the most populated city in Tennessee with a population of 651,932. The city fits just about anyone’s needs as it is home to families, single residents building careers, young people in school, and retirees. There are many exciting opportunities for leisure in Memphis, such as a long list of museums, vibrant restaurant options, and unique festivals. The median household income is $41,228 with an average home sale price of $160,000. If what Memphis has to offer grabs your attention, you’ll want to know about how safe the city is in order to make an informed decision. Is Memphis a safe city?
The crime rate in Memphis fell 4% from 2018 to 2019. Since crime statistics are much more than a general overview, looking at the details is important before making a decision about where to live. Different neighborhoods within the same city can vary greatly with their crime rates. This guide will provide the crime information in Memphis needed to make a decision about where is best for you and your family.
Understanding the Crime Rate in Memphis
So how are crime rates in Memphis determined, interpreted, and reported? When law enforcement evaluates crime rates for a city, the number of crimes reported is divided by the city’s population, then that figure is multiplied by 100,000. This is done for crime overall, as well as for each category, which is first divided between violent and property crimes. Then crimes are further divided in more detail by type of crime, such as murder or assault under violent crimes, and burglary or theft for property crimes. The data presented below is from FBI Uniform Crime Statistics – 2019.
Here’s a brief summary of overall crime rates in Memphis:
- Memphis total crimes: 54,453
- Memphis total crime rate: 8,349 per 100,000 people
- Chance of being a victim of a crime in Memphis: 1 in 12
Vital crime data is released on a regular basis by the city government and/or police department website. This is a convenient way for residents to stay informed about crimes committed in their area, sometimes the day after crimes are committed. The City of Memphis updates its crime offenses daily on the city website and can be found here. There is also a crime map of Memphis, TN provided for easy visualization of where crimes occur.
Violent Crime in Memphis
The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime is higher in Memphis than in Tennessee as a whole, with the chance for Memphis being 1 in 53 and the chance in Tennessee being 1 in 168. While the violent crime rate in Memphis fell between 2017 and 2018, it rose in 2019.
Violent crime in Memphis fell by 6.4% in 2014, which was a historic time of low crime. However, since then, Memphis violent crimes didn’t rise or fall remarkably. It has stayed above the national average. Daily violent crime rates in Memphis are 1.8 times the average for all of Tennessee. With a rate of 1,943 per 100,000 people, the violent crime rate in Memphis is higher than the national average of 337 per 100,000 people.
- Memphis Murder Rate: 28.5 per 100,000 people
- Memphis Total Violent Crimes: 12,647
- 1 in 51 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Memphis
Gang Violence in Memphis
Currently, Memphis is considered the most dangerous city in Tennessee. In the past 20 years, Memphis has been in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States. That being said, the majority of violent crime in Memphis is due to gang violence. There are 182 gangs in Memphis and over 8,400 gang members in the community.
Property Crime in Memphis
The property crime rate in Memphis is higher than property crime rate across Tennessee, as well as across the United States. Over the last three years, the Memphis property crime rate has fallen. Theft is the most common type of property crime committed in Memphis. Property crime rates are higher in Memphis than in Tennessee as well as the rest of the United States. However, property crime in Memphis has fallen about 16.3% since 2006, showing a significant overall downward trend for more than a decade.
- Memphis total property crimes: 41,779
- Property crime rate of 6,406 per 100,000 people
- 1 in 15.61 chance of being the victim of a property crime in Memphis
Dangerous Areas of Memphis
Large cities such as Memphis, Tennessee are divided into many neighborhoods. The differences between neighbors can be extreme, in everything from types of building, home styles, and crime. Some neighborhoods in a city may have more crime than others based on the area of the neighborhood and crime data reported by local law enforcement precincts. Here are a few of the least safe neighborhoods in Memphis:
- Population: 48,441
- Crime rate: 61% more crime than Memphis
Downtown Memphis is located by the Mississippi River. It has an overall crime rate that is 363% higher than the national average, and there is a 1 in 9 chance of being a victim of a crime. Real estate prices in Downtown are 39% lower than the average for Memphis with a 7% lower cost of living.
- Population: 39,463
- Crime rate: 45% higher than the rest of Memphis
Parkway Village-Oakhaven sits in Southeast Memphis. There is a violent crime rate of 2,759 per 100,000 people in Parkway Village-Oakhaven. The overall crime rate in Parkway Village-Oakhaven is 326% higher than that of the United States and there is a 1 in 10 chance of being a victim of a crime. Cost of living is 24% lower than the national average, with a median home value of $61,991.
- Population: 34,652
- Crime rate: 28% higher than the Memphis average
Shelby Forest-Frayser lies in North Memphis, with its northern border being the Loosahatchie River. The violent crime rate in Shelby Forest-Frayser is 2,434 per 100,000 people. Overall crime is 264% higher than that of the United States with a 1 in 12 chance of becoming a victim of a crime. The cost of living in Shelby Forest-Frayser is 16% lower than that of Tennessee with a median household income of $24,694.
Safest Neighborhoods in Memphis
Memphis is home to many remarkably safe neighborhoods! With each having its own personality, there are many from which to choose for your next home. Here are some of the safest neighborhoods in Memphis:
- Population: 39,193
- Crime rate: 58% lower than Tennessee average
Germantown is a beautiful suburb on the Far East Side of Memphis. The overall crime rate is 46% lower than the national average. Cost of living is 21% higher than the Tennessee average. The average price for a home is $420,000 and the market there is somewhat competitive.
- Population: 8,917
- Crime rate: 74% lower than the Tennessee average
Atoka is a small, rural area of Memphis that sits 40 minutes north of downtown. Average sale price for homes is $250,000 and the market is somewhat competitive. Median household income is $91,687 and cost of living is 2% higher than the average in Tennessee. Crime in Atoka is 67% lower than the national average. It is an ideal area for families and those that treasure the outdoors.
- Population: 12,541
- Crime rate: 62% lower than the Tennessee average
Lakeland is a small city northeast of downtown Memphis. Median household income is $103,047 with only a 2% unemployment rate. The overall crime rate is 50% lower than the average in the United States, with year-over-year crime decreasing 6%. Residential real estate sale prices average at $351,000 with a very competitive housing market.
Memphis Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in Memphis
- Avoid walking around alone, especially in downtown Memphis and especially after dark. Traveling in a group is always safer.
- Participate in neighborhood programs and become friendly with neighbors in order to watch out for each other.
- Uber or Lyft are typically safer than a cab
- Use the City of Memphis website to plan your activities and avoid being lost. Share your daily plans with someone else if out alone.
Memphis Police Department
The Memphis Police Department was formed in 1827, just one month after the incorporation of the city. John J. Balch was appointed as town constable with no other policemen until several years later. They were paid $400 a year. The first police station was 12’ by 20’ and cost $185. The first African American Memphis police were hired in 1867. The city faced a terrible epidemic of “yellow fever” in the 1870s, and while many men fled Memphis, the police force stayed on duty to protect the city.
The department currently employs 2,058 officers, 577 civilians, and has 3.2 officers per 1,000 Memphis residents. Michael W. Rallings is currently the Director of Police Services.
Memphis Police Headquarters
170 N. Main Street Memphis, TN 38103 (901) 636-3700
Memphis Crime Rates FAQ
What is the crime rate in Memphis, Tennessee?
Memphis’s total crime rate is 8,349 per 100,000 people. There is a 1 in 12 chance of being a victim of a crime in Memphis.
What are some of the worst areas of Memphis?
Several of the most dangerous areas in the Memphis area are Downtown, Parkway Village-Oakhaven, and Shelby Forest-Frayser.
Is Memphis safer than Nashville?
Total crime rates in Memphis are higher than Nashville.
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