Nearly a quarter of the 376 police officers who responded to the deadliest school shooting in Texas were from this department. The inquiry was announced the day after a report criticized how police handled the massacre.
The Uvalde school shooting
The Texas Department of Public Safety is looking into how 91 state troopers and guards responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary School to see if any rules or laws were broken.
The agency said Monday that it had formed an internal committee for the investigation last week. This comes almost two months after an 18-year-old alleged shooter killed 19 students and two teachers in Texas’ worst school shooting, and one day after a Texas House panel report found that 376 police officers from several agencies rushed to the scene in a chaotic, uncoordinated response that lasted 73 more minutes before the gunman was confronted and killed.
In its report, the House panel echoed criticisms that police tactics experts had already made. For example, the report said that instead of following the accepted rule that officers should quickly confront active shooters, police at Robb Elementary ran away when they were shot at and waited for help. By the time the gunman was killed, 376 police officers from local, state, and federal agencies had already arrived.
Roy G. Taylor, who has been a chief of police in North Carolina for 40 years, was surprised by how long it took for DPS to finish its internal investigation. He said that the timing of it is probably related to politics.
“This event got a lot of attention from the whole country, but the governor was there the first day,” Taylor said. “It looks like the governor would have put pressure on whichever state police agency was sort of in charge of [the investigation] to move as quickly as possible to get some facts and make some decisions.”
The agency’s criminal investigation
A DPS spokesperson said Monday that the Texas Rangers, the agency’s main criminal investigation team, we’re already looking into the case. They also said that the work of the new internal committee is in addition to the work of the Texas Rangers.
As a spokesman for the department said, “As part of the ongoing criminal investigation, the Texas Rangers have looked at what every member of law enforcement did that day.” “We’ve been doing this from the beginning of the investigation,” he said.
When that investigation is done, they will give it to Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee, who will decide if any police officer should be charged with a crime.
Considine said of the inquiry, “The criminal investigation always comes first, but it is usually followed by a full administrative review of this kind.”
A statement from the DPS says that the internal committee will also figure out “where the department can make improvements for future mass casualty responses.”
DPS criminal investigation Department
As the DPS criminal investigation went on behind closed doors and for weeks before the new internal committee was put together, DPS Director Steve McCraw was one of the loudest critics of how local police handled the massacre. He has said that Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, who McCraw said was in charge of the situation at the time, is especially to blame. At a Texas Senate committee hearing last month, he said that the police response was an “abject failure” and that the shooter could have been stopped three minutes after police arrived if Arredondo hadn’t been so unsure of what to do. He said that Arredondo “decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Kevin R. Madison, an expert in law enforcement from Travis County, said that the Uvalde massacre was the first time in his career that he had seen so many law enforcement agencies pointing the blame at each other.
“I’ve been a cop for almost 10 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Madison said. It’s very unusual for someone to say publicly that the actions of those police officers and Pete Arredondo were wrong. I have never seen it before. “
Last month, the Texas Tribune looked at a video that showed the hallway outside the classrooms where the shooting took place. Even though police and parents outside the school were yelling for help, officers stayed put in front of rooms 111 and 112, one at each end of a long hallway, until a tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol broke through the doors and killed the gunman.
Federal agencies didn’t leadership
Arredondo has said that it’s not true that he was in charge of all the police work at the scene. And the House report said that the problems weren’t just with the local police. The report said that 376 police officers from local, state, and federal agencies didn’t have clear leadership, good communication, or enough urgency to catch the gunman. The investigation by the House committee found that if there hadn’t been a strong incident commander, another officer could have and should have taken over.
The House report said that these local officials were not the only ones who were expected to take the lead during this tragedy. “Hundreds of people from different law enforcement agencies rushed to the scene.” Many of them were better trained and had better tools than the school district police.
The Uvalde school shooting News
According to a video that the Tribune looked at, a DPS special agent who told officers to go into the classroom stayed for six minutes before leaving to check out other rooms. A student who was hiding in a bathroom was found and saved. Just minutes or seconds before the tactical team from the Border Patrol stormed the classroom, more troopers showed up, but they did not join in.
On the day of the shooting, Uvalde police Lt. Mariano Pargas was acting chief of the city’s police department. On Sunday, Mayor Don McLaughlin said that Lt. Pargas had been put on administrative leave. Arredondo, who is in charge of the police force for the school district, is also on leave.
Roland Gutierrez, who is a state senator for Uvalde, told the Tribune that the complete new DPS investigation is happening at the “most disturbing” time. The Democrat senator plans to ask Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to tell the right legislative committees to start their own outside investigation into what DPS did on the day of the massacre. Gutierrez is also suing DPS over the release of records about the shooting. He said that, in the meantime, McCraw should be put on leave.
Gutierrez said, “I can’t believe we’re still talking about reports and processes instead of accountability.” Steve McCraw works directly for the governor of this state, and I’m sure the governor has seen these videos before. However, he hasn’t asked Director McCraw or anyone else in that agency for any kind of accountability, which is very sad.
How the police failed to stop
The report from the House committee, which came out on Sunday, talked about how the shooter planned and armed himself; how the school district didn’t do enough to make sure the campus was safe; and how the police moved too slowly to stop the massacre. It gave the most detailed account yet of what happened at the school on May 24 and how the police failed to stop it.
In a statement on Monday, Abbott said in a statement that the findings of the House committee were “beyond disturbing” and that they show that important changes need to be made.
The governor didn’t say which changes would be most important to him.
At a news conference held here on Sunday, the three-person House committee didn’t talk about the legal or professional futures of any specific police officers. Eva Guzman, who used to be a judge on the Texas Supreme Court, said that officers who did nothing should not be in law enforcement.
“The report says that if you’re not willing to put the lives of the people you serve or of those children before your own, you should find another job,” she said.
On Sunday, the members of the House committee that looked at the report didn’t say what laws the Legislature could propose in next year’s response. Dustin Burrows, a Republican from Lubbock who chairs the committee, and Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, did not respond to Monday’s requests for comment.
In a statement released Monday, a representative for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is in charge of the U.S. Border Patrol and whose tactical team killed the gunman, said that the federal agency is looking into how the agents responded to the shooting. The agency is working with “other investigating agencies and the Department of Justice” to look into the whole thing, the spokesperson said.
Nearly 150 Border Patrol agents came to the scene, with some coming from as far as 70 miles away. The agents of the Border Patrol had many different jobs, such as helping people who were hurt, keeping the perimeter safe, and helping some families reunite with their students. Nearly 150 Border Patrol agents were at the scene, but only one of them had a body-worn camera. This is because CBP just started giving these cameras to Border Patrol agents, and some of the agents there were off-duty.
Once the CBP review is done, the results will be made public “when it makes sense,” said a spokesperson.
The CBP spokesperson said, “CBP will keep working with our federal, state, and local collaborators to answer the hard questions about what went wrong and how we can improve our responses.” “We owe this to the people of Uvalde and to the whole country.”
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