A statement from Chief Harrison with the Texarkana Arkansas Police
In response to concerns and requests from parents, students, teachers, citizens, and news media outlets concerning their safety after the recent shooting in Lakeland, Florida last week, I respond as follows:
Law enforcement officials must do a better job of gathering, assessing, investigating, and disseminating information that could possibly eliminate the threat of an active shooter. In our efforts to better serve and protect our citizens, we will be redirecting an officer into an investigative position that will be solely assigned to act as a clearing house for vetting all intelligence in reference to these types of incidents. This will minimize the chance of a threat going without investigation.
We feel that school administrators, teachers, security officers, business leaders, members of the clergy, and citizens need a trained police officer to immediately report suspicious circumstances to, so that the information does not fall into the mix of all other daily reporting. Upon receiving a complaint or finding a post or comment on social media this officer will immediately assess the credibility of the threat and the individual(s) responsible. Any necessary investigation or follow up will be the responsibility of this officer.
As everyone is now aware, a person who was in contact on social media with the Florida shooting suspect contacted authorities who failed to follow up on information that was given to them. Although it is impossible to say with certainty, had they acted on the information it may have prevented the school shooting in Lakeland, Florida. We are also now learning that a law enforcement officer apparently failed to even respond to the threat as he was positioned outside of the school while shots were being fired. This is completely unacceptable and as police chief, I feel we must make every effort to ensure that none of these failures happen in our City as we are not immune to this type of threat.
Almost three weeks ago, an employee who had been terminated from a local manufacturing facility gained covert access into the building. The suspect then appeared armed inside the business attempting to locate a supervisor. Due to this threat, an off-duty police officer was hired to provide security during the next working shift until the suspect could be located and arrested.
Just this past weekend, an Arkansas High School student made non-specific threats of gun violence via Instagram. Due to a quick response and due diligence, the student is now in custody and the possibility of an incident in our City did not become a reality.
Creating this position required one of our two (2) frozen positions to be unfrozen with the approval of our City Manager, Dr. Kenny Haskins. Dr. Haskins realized the importance of this position and gave approval to proceed with the hiring process.
I feel confident this new position will help our school district, churches, businesses, and citizens by putting us one step closer to providing a safer environment in our community.
Robert H. Harrison
Chief of Police