Little Elm Police Chief Rodney Harrison has been a stalwart of safety for almost three decades, serving communities since 1990. Harrison came to Little Elm in 2011 and has been serving as the police chief for four years. Through it all, Harrison has seen many new threats come and go and has been at the forefront of mitigating their effects.
The latest incident happened last weekend with two separate mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio.
Harrison believes there is no easy fix to this problem but part of the solution lies in community strength. Little Elm is a safe town by almost every metric. According to the Texas State Criminal Records, the town is below average in every major crime statistic. Per 100,000 residents, Little Elm has a murder rate of just 2.2 people. The national average is 6.6, according to the records. Robberies occur at a 17.4 person rate in Little Elm, compared to 135.5 residents across the country. It is this relative sense of calm though that Harrison believes cannot morph into complacency.
“Fortunately, we live in a very safe community. But that is the common thing that is often said after a tragic situation like the shootings that occur far too often. We as a community become lax and seem to think it could not happen to us,” Harrison said. “Unfortunately there has not been a good solution to this issue that is proven to work every time.”
There have been many red flags that have occurred before nearly every mass shooting in recent months. One of them, that receives plenty of coverage, is spouting of hate speech online and on social media. The shooter in El Paso released a manifesto-esque document online prior to his actions. Harrison talked about the community collectively monitoring potential warning signs of a person possibly in the frame of mind to commit a mass horror.
“We do not have a dedicated officer that monitors social media for hate speech. The public does a pretty good job of sending us social media information that they feel is “hate” driven. We evaluate this information and see if there is anything we can do on a local level and forward it to the proper FBI local liaison for further evaluation,” Harrison said.
Harrison had a message for safety for each Little Elm resident after the event in El Paso.
“Our advice would be when out in public be aware of your surroundings. Always know where the exits are when inside a public venue, and if you see something say something. It might just save a life or prevent a tragedy,” Harrison said.