Oct 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas public safety head: Agency "did not fail" during Uvalde school shooting

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifying before state officials in 2015.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifying before state officials in 2015. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), said at a public meeting Thursday the agency "did not fail" the community of Uvalde during the school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers in May.

Why it matters: McCraw's comments come weeks after he told CNN he would resign if any DPS officer had a hand in the botched police response to the shooting at Robb Elementary.

  • Last week, a DPS trooper — former Sgt. Juan Maldonado — who was among the first to respond to the school shooting was fired. The agency did not say why he was let go.
  • Body camera footage showed Maldonado arrived at the scene of the shooting four minutes after it started, but he did not enter the school.
  • At the Public Safety Commission meeting Thursday, family members of victims of the mass shooting called for McCraw's resignation over DPS troopers' responses to the shooting, saying they had been found culpable in the failed response.

What he's saying: McCraw said Thursday he would only resign if "DPS as an institution" were found to have failed Uvalde, not an individual trooper.

  • "If DPS as an institution — as an institution — failed the families, failed the school, or failed the community of Uvalde, then absolutely I need to go,” McCraw said during the meeting. "But I can tell you this right now: DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community — plain and simple."
  • "There were actions — I can tell you, there were things we're not proud about," he said.

The big picture: 376 law enforcement officers from federal and state agencies responded to the shooting, but they lacked clear leadership and communication and an urgency to stop the gunman, a Texas House of Representatives investigation revealed in July.

  • The shooter was inside the school for 74 minutes before law enforcement shot and killed him, according to a timeline previously provided by McCraw.
  • The shooter was inside two joint classrooms with several children for most of that time. Several officers were in the hallway to the classrooms during the same span but did not enter.
  • Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin accused DPS in June of releasing contradictory information, perpetrating "false leaks" and having its own agenda in the shooting's aftermath.
  • McCraw previously wholly blamed the incident commander, the school district's former police chief Pete Arredondo, for the botched response, saying he made the “wrong decision” not to send officers in sooner.
  • DPS revealed in September that five of its officers were referred to the state Inspector General's Office for a formal investigation into their actions during the shooting.

Go deeper: Texas state trooper criticized for response to Uvalde shooting has been fired

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