The school district in Uvalde, Texas, announced on Friday that it suspended the operations of its entire police force five months after school-district police and other officers failed over and over again to stop a shooter from killing 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District released a statement saying that with the school police temporarily nixed, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will be on campuses in the rural south Texas town “for a period of time.” The district also stated that two officials — Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller — have been placed on administrative leave. Mueller, the director of student services, retired instead of accepting the suspension. Hernandez was the head of the school district’s police force after the previous chief, Pete Arredondo, was fired after he misread the situation and delayed in sending his cops into the school. In a July report from a Texas House committee investigating the response, lawmakers wrote that “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision-making” dominated the police force’s response.
The statement also states that “recent developments” in an investigation led by the Texas Police Chiefs Association “have uncovered additional concerns with department operations.” The department-wide suspension comes days after CNN reported that a former Texas Department of Public Safety officer under investigation for failing to act quickly on the scene at the shooting was hired as a Uvalde school cop. The trooper, Crimson Elizondo, was one of the officers who made it into Robb Elementary minutes after the gunman opened fire — though police waited over an hour to enter the classroom where he was barricaded, using hand sanitizer in the school hallway as occasional shots rang out. Elizondo was fired from her new position on Thursday. During the suspension, Uvalde school cops will “fill other roles in the district,” according to the release.
One month into the school year, the community in Uvalde is trying to recover from the devastating attack and infuriating failures of the officers on the scene. Parents and families of the fourth-graders killed on May 24 are still pushing for new investigations into the police response and protesting for accountability from the officers involved. But not all the investigations have resulted in action: Last month, the head of Texas’s top law-enforcement agency told his captains that “no one is losing their jobs” as a result of an internal investigation.
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