It has been announced by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that two officers have been suspended with pay while a review of DPS’s role in the response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School continues. The two officers and three others have been referred to the DPS inspector general’s office for a formal investigation. Nineteen children and two teachers died that day while many law enforcement officers from various agencies stood around outside a classroom while the shooter killed the victims.
The investigations and reports coming out of this mass shooting event are as bungled as the response of law enforcement. The question is why is it all taking so long? The shooting happened in May. Here we are in September and school opened for Uvalde students this week. Robb Elementary School will no longer be in use. The school may be demolished. So far, the only notable action taken is that Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo was fired by the Uvalde school board. That action took three months. Why do so many who proved to be horribly incompetent still have jobs in law enforcement? It’s a travesty.
The DPS review was announced in July. The investigation into the actions of the officers is to help understand policy violations, if any, that happened. It is also to find if any violation of training occurred and what disciplinary actions should be taken, according to DPS spokesman Travis Considine. Continuing in a turtle-slow manner, no timeline for the investigation has been announced. We don’t know when the inspector general’s office will complete its investigation.
Grieving families and all the city residents deserve better.
The revelation came on the heels of a newly disclosed internal email in which the head of the DPS said the agency shares in what he called the “abject failure” that led to the 77-minute delay in responding May 24 to the state’s deadliest school shooting.
The email, time-stamped “Wednesday, July 20, 2022 12:16:10 PM” — one month after DPS Col. Steve McCraw testified before a select committee of the Texas Senate — contained a more explicit acknowledgment that the DPS troopers on the scene should have acted more aggressively to confront the shooter.
Would any officers have been suspended if the email had not been exposed and its content stating the DPS troopers didn’t act aggressively enough had not pointed a finger at the officers? Why were these officers singled out from all the rest who were on the scene that day? There are still many more questions than answers. There were 376 law enforcement officers who responded and 91 of them were from DPS. The gunman was shot by a team led by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The email from McCraw makes it clear that if, God forbid, another such mass shooting happens, DPS cannot wait in its response.
“DPS Officers responding to an active shooter at a school will be authorized to overcome any delay to neutralizing an attacker,” McCraw wrote. “When a subject fires a weapon at a school he remains an active shooter until he is neutralized and is not to be treated as a ‘barricaded subject.’”
Part of the confusion that day was that no one seemed to know who was in charge and no one came forward to take charge. Most assumed that since the shooting happened at a school, the Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo was the person in charge of the response. He said at the time that he didn’t consider himself to be in full charge. That flew in the face of the stated policy of the district’s handbook.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, (D-San Antonio) requested the documents be released which included McCraw’s internal email. Gutierrez’s district includes Uvalde. He said he was grateful that McCraw accepted some of the responsibility but he continues to level criticism that the public has not received the full accounting they deserve.
Let’s hope that the investigation doesn’t drag on much longer. People need to be held accountable and the families deserve to know that consequences will be leveled as is appropriate from whatever the results of the investigation turn out to be. Making the families wait in limbo with so many unanswered questions is cruel. It needs to stop.