AUSTIN (KXAN) — At least 79 officers have left the Texas Department of Public Safety since the deadly Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24 in Uvalde, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, or TCOLE.

Among them were the top two highest-ranking leaders of the Texas Rangers. 

Those officers were Chief Chance Collins and his second in command Assistant Chief Bryan Burzynski.

The timing of their retirements prompted KXAN to ask whether the Uvalde school shooting and DPS’ involvement directly influenced their decisions.

KXAN attempted to contacted both officers multiple times via email, phone and social media to learn more about why they decided to retire. KXAN has not received a response from Collins, however, Burzynski reached out to KXAN after publishing this story.

Burzynski told KXAN he had been planning to retire in 2022 since becoming assistant chief in 2019. Prior to the Robb Elementary school shooting, Burzynski said he considered waiting until 2024 to retire.

“Uvalde was an important factor for why I retired now,” said Burzynski.

While KXAN has not confirmed the reasons Collins’ retired, a timeline of events and records of DPS emails reveal new insight into the circumstances surrounding Collins’ retirement and how some DPS officers feel about the culture and environment within the agency. 

TIMELINE: What’s happened since the school shooting

According to email records, Burzynski submitted his retirement paperwork to DPS in June, less than three weeks after the Robb Elementary School shooting.

In July, DPS created an internal committee to review the actions of each of the 91 DPS officers who responded to the Robb Elementary School shooting.

The following month, DPS announced the retirement of Burzynski, as well as another high-ranking regional director, Todd Snyder.

On Sept. 6, DPS said five officers were being investigated for their actions during the response to the Robb Elementary School shooting. Two of those officers were suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Nine days after DPS’ Uvalde investigation announcement, Collins sent an email to a select group of DPS staff stating he was retiring at the end of the month and did not wish to have a formal ceremony, according to email records KXAN obtained from a public information request.

The email from Collins further explained how proud he was of his officers, including saying the recipients “have a division command staff that is stronger than any I have been a part of.” He concluded with this statement:

“I know you will continue your commitment to the citizens of Texas without fear, intimidation, or political influence; remaining steadfast in the pursuit of justice for those who have been the victims of evil.”

The responses Collins received indicated the announcement was not expected, according to email records.

“What!?,” an assistant chief at DPS wrote. “It won’t be the same without you!”

Collins’ response to this email and many others like it: “it’s time for me to go,” according to email records.

KXAN also found several responses from DPS officers suggesting concerns about the current culture and environment at DPS.

One email from a DPS regional director stated, “I will talk to you down the line after the dust settles. It is not the same Department anymore … Losing men like you and Todd really highlights the backward slide. My time is coming quickly and I am ready!”

In response, Collins wrote “sometimes we find ourself on a hill worth planting a flag for.”

KXAN reached out to the regional director who wrote this email to ask about his response but has not heard back.

Collins’ retirement came three months before the 200-year anniversary celebration of the Texas Rangers.

COMPARISON: Pre-Uvalde DPS separations

KXAN reviewed DPS officer records from TCOLE and learned Collins and Burzynski are among at least 79 DPS officers, including a regional director, who have left or retired in the months following the Uvalde school shooting on May 24.

KXAN reached out to DPS and asked for a comment regarding the recent increase in separations and will update this story once a response is received.

In the months of June, July and August 2022, nearly 30% more officers left DPS compared to the same months in 2021. 

The most significant change came this August, the month after DPS announced its investigation into the Robb Elementary School shooting, when 41 officers left the department compared to just 16 the same month in 2021.