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A recent investigation by the Justice Department has revealed a series of critical failures in the response of law enforcement to the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The probe, initiated to address lingering questions from the Uvalde community and the nation, sought to understand the delay in police action as a gunman carried out the deadly attack at Robb Elementary School.

The DOJ report, disclosed to reporters on Thursday, cites a lack of urgency in establishing a command post and a failure to correctly assess the situation, leading to “cascading failures” and tragic outcomes.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, present in Uvalde for the report’s release, highlighted the failure of local police in handling the crisis, emphasizing the breakdown in leadership, training, and policies. According to Garland, the mishandling resulted in 33 students and three teachers being trapped with the shooter for over an hour while law enforcement officials remained outside.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin had requested the DOJ’s assistance in June 2022, leading to an extensive review process that involved site visits, interviews with over 200 individuals, and examination of thousands of pieces of evidence.

The DOJ’s findings are consistent with a July 2022 report by the Texas House of Representatives, which also criticized the Uvalde police for their inadequate response. Both reports highlighted the failure of the 400 officers at the scene to recognize the active shooter situation, which necessitates immediate intervention to stop ongoing harm. Instead, the officers mistakenly treated the situation as if dealing with a barricaded shooter, requiring a more cautious approach.

The Texas House report and the DOJ both stressed the importance of active shooter training for law enforcement, noting that saving lives should be the highest priority in such scenarios. They concluded that the officers’ failure to adhere to their training and prioritize the safety of the victims over their own was a critical error. The DOJ particularly pointed out the unacceptable delay in response, with officers taking 74 minutes to enter the school after arriving just three minutes following the shooter’s entry.

Chief of Police Pete Arredondo, who was among the first responders and responsible for command and control, failed to fulfill his role or delegate it appropriately. This failure and the overall mismanagement of the situation led to only five officers being fired in the aftermath of the tragedy.


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