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New deputy chief looks back on past as she prepares for the future

by Amber McDown

After over 13 years of working as the school resource officer (SRO) at Minden High School, Tokia Harrison was recently appointed the position of deputy chief for the Minden Police Department. This is the first time that the Minden Police Department has had a deputy chief, but it was a position that Chief Jared McIver wanted Harrison to fill as soon as he was elected. “She’s going to be my right arm,” said Chief McIver as soon as the election results were in last November. The position is interim until she passes her final test, but Harrison feels confident that she is prepared to do so. 

Working with high school students for so many years has definitely prepared Deputy Chief Harrison for whatever surprises and changes may come. 

“I loved going to work every day, even when bad things were going on,” said Deputy Chief Harrison. “That’s how I know it was my purpose, because I enjoyed it. I built a lot of relationships. It was bittersweet leaving.

“But it definitely prepares you. You learn all the different personalities and different types of people and circumstances that you’ll have to tackle. It also taught me to be even more of a leader. It brought out things in me that I didn’t know I had. People will tell me I’m doing great things, but I feel like God is just doing His thing, and I’m just trying to please Him.

“When I get kids who become officers or who inbox me out of the blue and tell me that I really made a change in their lives, it makes what you do go through worth it. And I like to focus on the positive; if you dwell on the positive and you keep your mind set there, you make what your day’s going to be. You make how your life’s going to go with how you think.

“Another way that being an SRO prepared me is by helping me build relationships with students and their parents. Knowing people helps because they trust you.”

Harrison takes her new role very seriously. She wants to learn everything she can to help the department become more professional and to strengthen the trust of the community. She looks forward to being Chief McIver’s right hand and supporting his initiatives for the department. Harrison wants to find more ways for the community and individuals to interact with the police department in positive ways. She’s very open to people giving suggestions or pointing out problems.

“Come in and give your suggestions because it might be something that helps our department,” said Harrison. “It might be something we don’t know is going on. I want to be someone who listens and who lets people know that they’re being heard.”

If you want to make a complaint, Harrison will be there to listen to you. “I’m going to get both sides, and I’m going to investigate it. You’re going to get a thorough investigation of your complaints, no matter how minor it is. Whatever actions need to be taken will be taken. What can be known will be known, but we have HIPAA.” This means that they are not permitted, under federal law, to disclose certain things such as details pertaining to the disciplinary actions taken. “If I can’t tell you, I can’t tell you. But just trust that it’s being handled.”

As deputy chief, Harrison will be available to make decisions when Chief McIver is not, which can speed up how quickly some situations are addressed. She also takes the wellbeing of her fellow officers very seriously, and wants to look out not only for their physical safety but their mental and emotional health as well. 

“One of my roles is to make sure that officers are okay, so they can make good decisions in that  split second,” said Harrison. “You’ve got a normal level of adrenalin. We’re always above that. It takes about 24 hours to reset your body [from an adrenal crash], but we’ve got to be back to work before that.” For this reason, she’s always on the lookout for officers who seem to be under additional stress.

When asked what she wants out of this position, Harrison said, “I just want to make my family, especially my daughter and my husband, and my babies [former students] all proud, and give them something to look up to. I want the community to know that I’m going to do the best I can to the best of my ability. I’m here for them. Community is number one. Anytime you need me, you can always reach me.”

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