May 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Uvalde officers likely "unprepared for conflict," says retired FBI agent who created active shooter program

Police officers stand near a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Police officers stand near memorial for the shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The Uvalde police officers "may have been unprepared for conflict" prior to the recent mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, a retired FBI special agent who created the active shooter program wrote in the New York Times.

Why it matters: Law officials in Texas are facing much criticism for why it took so long for officers to stop the Uvalde shooter.

  • Officials say 19 officers were in a hallway outside of the classrooms when the first call from inside one of the rooms was made around 12:03 pm, but law enforcement did not breach the classrooms until 12:51 pm.
  • The Justice Department announced on Sunday it would conduct a full review into the police response to the shooting and lay out best response practices.

Driving the news: "Current protocol and best practices say officers must persistently pursue efforts to neutralize a shooter when a shooting is underway," Katherine Schweit, the retired FBI agent, wrote in the Times. "This is true even if only one officer is present. This is without question the right approach."

  • "We need to understand why that protocol was not followed in Uvalde," she wrote. "I am still confident the FBI's focus on training to this standard was right, but I’m less confident in its execution."
  • "The officers who responded may have been unprepared for conflict, which can lead to fatal results," she wrote. "Law enforcement officers need to be mentally prepared before they arrive on the scene, so they can respond immediately."

Schweit, who created and ran the active shooter program in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, wrote that police "departments should consider more virtual tabletop exercises they can run through in an afternoon.

  • "Have officers walk through schools and talk with one another about how they would respond. Require officers to check all their gear before they begin a shift."
  • "Repetitive training builds practice and confidence," she wrote.

Worth noting: The Uvalde school district held an all-day training for local police and law enforcement officers for "active shooter response" two months ago, ABC News reports.

  • "First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm's way," the training course description read, per ABC News.

Go deeper ... Police failure in Uvalde mass shooting: What we know

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