Brian Scott, Denton County Reporter
The FBI has named Little Elm in Denton County the 18th Safest City in the entire country.
Little Elm is getting national recognition for its focus on safety.
The town is ranked as the safest city in Texas and the 18th safest nationwide among cities with a population of more than 25,000,according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report.
The report used data from 2011, when the Denton County community saw only 14 violent crimes and 228 property crimes.
The FBI weighed that information in a ratio of crime per 1,000 in the population to give Little Elm a rank of 84 -- meaning the town is safer than 84 percent of U.S. cities.
Town leaders said it's a great honor because they've always tried to keep safety as their No. 1 priority.
"It's probably the primary focus of our council and our leadership in this community is safety," Assistant City Manager Doug Peach said. "They recognize that as one of the most important aspects of local government."
Police Chief Waylan Rhodes said he holds his officers to the same standards that he would in a much larger city in order to maintain a low crime rate.
"It's certainly different than ... the expectations of just responding to calls, but the proactive way they do their jobs is certainly a huge part," he said.
Rhodes also said that a big-city mentality is becoming more important each year as Little Elm grows in population. The town only had 9,000 residents when he first joined the force close to a decade ago but now numbers closer to 30,000, he said.
"You know, there's a little pressure to keep that, at least where we're at, and if we can do and improve to get better, we'll certainly look at those options to do that," he said.
Along with continuing to enhance their efforts at Town Hall, one of the town's biggest assets in keeping its rating is its citizens and their commitment to safety, Peach said.
"We have people that actually get out and meet their neighbors, and they work together to ensure that they maintain safety, and they watch out for one another," he said.