Jul 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Police response to Uvalde was mostly federal and state officers, report says

Crosses are decorated with flowers and stuffed animals at a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School

A memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Nearly 400 law enforcement officers arrived on the scene to respond to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the vast majority of whom were federal and state officers, according to a new investigative report released Sunday by a Texas House of Representatives committee.

Why it matters: Local and state law enforcement officials in Texas have faced fierce criticism over the past two months as to why it took so long for officers to confront the shooter.

  • The report is the first to highlight the inaction of state and federal law enforcement, as other accounts have placed blame on school police chief Pete Arredondo and other local law police, according to the Texas Tribune.
  • Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, laid the blame on Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, during a Texas Senate hearing last month.

The big picture: The total 376 officers who responded to the scene lacked clear leadership and communication as well as urgency to stop the gunman, the report found, per the Tribune.

  • The responding force was comprised of 149 U.S. Border Patrol officers, 91 state police, 25 Uvalde police officers and 16 sheriff’s deputies. Others on the scene included U.S. marshals, federal Drug Enforcement Agency officers and neighboring county law enforcement, the Tribune reported.
  • Only five of the officers on the scene were from Arredondo’s school police force.
  • In the absence of a strong on-scene commander, other law enforcement officers should have taken the reins and "helped to address the unfolding chaos," the report stated.

The report also found fault with the school's safety protocols, observing that a key shortage meant that teachers often left doors unlocked and that not all teachers received an intruder alert due to poor wireless signal or not having their phones with them.

  • Some faculty and staff at the school didn't initially take the intruder alert seriously enough. Frequent immigration-related police pursuits had caused “secure” or “lockdown” events at Uvalde schools so often that some had become desensitized to them.

What they're saying: Law enforcement failed to stop the shooter as a result of systemic failures and egregious poor decision-making” by those in positions of power, the report stated, per the Tribune.

  • “These local officials were not the only ones expected to supply the leadership needed during this tragedy,” it added.
  • “Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies — many of whom were better trained and better equipped than the school district police — quickly arrived on the scene.”
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