5 DPS officers under investigation for actions while responding to Uvalde shooting

Five Texas Department of Public Safety officers have been referred to the state inspector general’s office for a formal investigation into their actions surrounding the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead, the Austin American Politician has learned.

The investigation into the officers’ actions, which were identified as part of a review DPS announced in July, will help the agency’s inspector general’s office determine whether policy violations occurred, as well as any violation of training and what disciplinary action should be taken. those officers face, DPS spokesman Travis Considine said Tuesday. Late Tuesday, the agency announced that two of the five officers had been suspended with pay.

No timeline has been announced for when the inspector general’s office will complete its investigation.

The revelation came after a newly disclosed internal email in which the DPS chief said the agency shares what he called a “major failure” that led to a 77-minute delay in responding May 24 to the state’s deadliest school shooting . .

The email, timestamped “Wednesday, July 20, 2022 12:16:10 PM.” — a month after DPS Col. Steve McCraw testified before a Texas Senate select committee — contained a more pointed acknowledgment that DPS troopers on the scene should have acted more aggressively to confront the shooter.

Five Texas Department of Public Safety officers have been referred to the state inspector general’s office for a formal investigation into their actions during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Video from inside the school, obtained by the Statesman and KVUE, shows multiple officers from various law enforcement agencies outside the classroom where the massacre took place while the gunman was reportedly barricaded inside. By the time the gunman was shot by a team led by the US Border Patrol, 376 officers had responded, 91 of them from DPS.

McCraw’s email leaves little doubt that DPS cannot wait in the event of a similar mass shooting.

More:Some improvements to Uvalde’s school security have not yet been made a week before school starts

“DPS officers responding to an active shooter at a school will be authorized to overcome any delay in neutralizing an attacker,” McCraw wrote. “When a subject fires a weapon at a school, he remains an active shooter until he is neutralized and should not be treated as an ‘exclusive issue’.”

Because the shooting happened on a Uvalde school campus, many experts said then-Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was the scene commander. The now-fired chief later said he did not believe he was fully responsible for the law enforcement response.

In his Senate testimony, McCraw warned lawmakers against pushing for a policy that would automatically make DPS the go-to agency during mass violence within a local jurisdiction.

“Every agency that responded that day shares this failure, including DPS,” McCraw wrote. “While I remain critical of the decision to treat the incident as a obstruction issue by the Unified Independent School District police officer on the scene, DPS and other agencies must also be held accountable for their actions or inactions.

“It is clear from the evidence that law enforcement should have treated this situation as an active shooter incident. The ongoing criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers includes a review of the actions of each law enforcement officer who responded to the scene.”

The email was part of a small cache of documents about the shooting and its aftermath requested by state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a San Antonio Democrat whose district includes Uvalde. Gutierrez, in an interview, said he was grateful McCraw accepted at least some of the blame for the poor response. However, he continued his strong criticism that the public is not receiving a full accounting of action, and inaction, by law enforcement at every level.

“We asked for radio broadcasts, we asked for body camera footage,” Gutierrez said. “But we didn’t get much other than the emails.”

More:In Uvalde, back to school brings anxiety, safety fears

A DPS spokesman did not return a call for comment about McCraw’s email or Gutierrez’s response to it.

McCraw, in testimony before the Senate panel and in public comments, was among Arredondo’s harshest critics, saying the local police chief had “decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children.”

Arredondo was fired by the Uvalde school board last month, and a report from a Texas task force released nearly two months after the shooting echoed that criticism, but said it wasn’t limited to Arredondo and the small school district’s police force. of.

Instead, the commission cited “systemic failures and egregious poor decision-making.” Commission investigators found that other law enforcement officers on the scene also failed to act and should have stepped up and taken charge once it became apparent that there was no clear incident commander from local or school police to direct the response.

“Hundreds of responders from multiple law enforcement agencies — many of whom were better trained and better equipped than school district police — quickly arrived on the scene” and could “help deal with the unfolding chaos,” the report said.

More:Photos: Uvalde returns to school as fear looms

This article originally appeared in the Corpus Christi Caller Times: 5 DPS officers under investigation for actions during Uvalde response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *