May 31, 2022

Uvalde Police

The actions — or more notably, the inaction — of a school district police chief and other law enforcement officers have become the center of the investigation into [last] week’s shocking school shooting in Uvalde, Texas… By Friday, authorities acknowledged that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators for help while the police chief told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway at Robb Elementary School.” AP News

Both sides are critical of the police response to the shooting:

“When a man or woman puts on a uniform and straps on a gun—whether they’re a police officer or a soldier—they should be making a profound declaration. They’re willing to die to protect their community and their nation… We thank soldiers for their service and ‘back the blue’ because, in theory, they’ve placed our lives above their own. And so, at 11:35 a.m. the seven officers present had but one choice—fight to the death to protect and save as many children as they could. They were to emerge from that school with their shield or on it. There was no other moral choice…  

“It’s a terrible irony the police failure in Uvalde occurred less than one week before Memorial Day. I hope that we can pause for just a moment on Monday and remember those who did not stand down… Our nation still produces such men and women, and one way to continue to cultivate courage is to remember them, honor them, and teach the next generation to emulate them. Yes, condemn cowardice, but also celebrate valor. Remind our nation that its heroes made a better choice.”
David French, The Dispatch

“For two decades, law enforcement professionals have talked about the modifications that the profession made to tactical-response protocols following the April 20, 1999, Columbine mass shooting, where an after-action review indicated an interminably long 47 minutes had transpired between the first shots from Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and law enforcement officers’ entry into Columbine High School. It has been more than 23 years since those painful lessons were learned. Yet it appears we must relearn them.”
James A. Gagliano, City Journal

“The tiny Uvalde school district has its own seven-person force; the 15,000-person city spends 40 percent of its budget on policing, and in 2020, the Uvalde Police Department proudly touted its nine-person SWAT team that was getting to know the layouts of local schools. Not only did the police spend an hour preparing to enter the school on Tuesday, but there was also this, from a fourth grader to local CBS affiliate KENS, presumably about the police’s first attempt to get into the school: ‘When the cops came, the cop said: ‘Yell if you need help!’ And one of the persons in my class said ‘help.’ The guy overheard and he came in and shot her,’ the boy said…

“Sometimes you have to admit that the police didn’t do a great job. Uvalde is a policing anecdote, but the data illustrate some serious weak spots that virtually no prominent elected official risks digging into for fear of being branded a ‘defunder.’ Crime rates are soaring in spite of the fact that police funding is at record highs. The percentage of murders that police solve is at its lowest rate in 50 years. To put it mildly, when it comes to preventing and solving crimes, there is room for improvement.”
Henry Grabar, Slate

“Make no mistake: The person responsible for the murder of these little children and brave teachers is the deranged 18-year-old who fired an AR-style rifle. But it is important to know whether errors were made that might have cost some lives. What lessons can be learned that might save lives in the future if — as sadly seems inevitable — there are more mass shootings? There needs to be a full public accounting.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

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