This Town in Tennessee State Takes the Crown for Most Violent

When people think of violent crime in the United States, they might imagine big cities like Chicago, Detroit, or Baltimore. But according to the latest FBI data, the most violent town in Tennessee is not Memphis, Nashville, or Knoxville. It is a small community of less than 3,000 people in the northwest corner of the state: Ridgely.

What makes Ridgely so violent?

Ridgely is a town in Lake County, Tennessee, with a population of 2,912 as of 2020. It has a violent crime rate of 2,566 per 100,000 people, which is more than 10 times the national average of 250 per 100,000. This means that one in every 39 residents of Ridgely was a victim of a violent crime in 2020, such as murder, rape, robbery, or assault.

The causes of Ridgely’s high crime rate are not clear, but some possible factors are:

Poverty: Ridgely has a poverty rate of 35.7%, which is more than double the state average of 15.3%. Poverty is often linked to crime, as it creates stress, desperation, and lack of opportunities for people.

Drugs: Ridgely is located near the border of Kentucky and Missouri, which are major sources of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl. Drug trafficking and addiction can fuel violence, as dealers and users compete for territory, money, and supplies.

Gangs: Ridgely is home to several gangs, such as the Gangster Disciples, the Vice Lords, and the Crips. Gangs are involved in various criminal activities, such as drug dealing, extortion, robbery, and murder. Gangs also have rivalries and conflicts with each other, which can escalate into shootings and killings.

Policing: Ridgely has a small and understaffed police department, with only six officers to serve the entire town. This means that the police have limited resources and capacity to prevent, respond, and investigate crimes. It also means that the residents have low trust and confidence in the police, which can reduce their willingness to cooperate and report crimes.

How does Ridgely compare to other towns in Tennessee?

Ridgely is not the only town in Tennessee that has a high crime rate. According to the FBI data, there are 10 other towns in the state that have a violent crime rate above 1,000 per 100,000 people. Here are the top five most violent towns in Tennessee, along with their population and crime rate:


Town Population Violent Crime Rate
Ridgely 2,912 2,566
Bolivar 5,066 1,760
Ripley 8,109 1,736
Covington 8,870 1,652
Brownsville 9,592 1,620

As you can see, most of these towns are small and rural, with populations below 10,000. This contradicts the common perception that crime is more prevalent in urban areas. In fact, some studies have found that rural areas have higher rates of violent crime than urban areas, especially for crimes such as rape and domestic violence .

What can be done to reduce violence in Ridgely?

Reducing violence in Ridgely is not an easy task, as it requires addressing the underlying social, economic, and cultural factors that contribute to crime. However, some possible solutions are:

Increasing economic opportunities: Providing more jobs, education, and training for the residents of Ridgely can help them escape poverty and achieve a better quality of life. This can also reduce their involvement in illegal activities and increase their stake in the community.

Enhancing drug prevention and treatment: Reducing the supply and demand of drugs in Ridgely can help curb the violence associated with drug trafficking and addiction. This can be done by increasing the enforcement and prosecution of drug dealers, as well as providing more access and support for drug users who want to quit or recover.

Strengthening community policing: Improving the relationship and cooperation between the police and the community can help improve the safety and security of Ridgely. This can be done by increasing the number and diversity of police officers, as well as engaging the community in crime prevention and problem-solving initiatives.

Supporting victims and witnesses: Providing more assistance and protection for the victims and witnesses of violent crime can help them heal and recover from their trauma. This can also encourage them to report and testify against the perpetrators, which can increase the accountability and deterrence of crime.


Ridgely is a town in Tennessee that has the highest violent crime rate in the state, and one of the highest in the country. The reasons for Ridgely’s violence are complex and multifaceted, but they include poverty, drugs, gangs, and policing. To reduce violence in Ridgely, there is a need for comprehensive and collaborative efforts from the government, the police, the community, and other stakeholders. Ridgely may be a small town, but it deserves a big change.

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