This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A required training class for school-based law enforcement in Texas issued a blunt instruction when it comes to an active school shooter: “neutralize the threat even if that means one officer acting alone.”
“A first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field,” the training material said.
The eight-hour class, titled, “Active Shooter Response for School-Based Law Enforcement,” was put together by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in 2020. The training became a requirement as part of House Bill 2195. The bill passed the Texas Legislature in 2019, following the school shooting at Santa Fe High School the year before, which killed eight students and two teachers.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police participated in this active shooter training class on March 21 — almost two months to the day before 19 children and two adults were murdered at Robb Elementary School. The Uvalde CISD Police Department also hosted the same training with Uvalde Police and the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 25, 2020, according to its Facebook page.
Uvalde CISD Chief of Police Peter Arrendondo completed the training in December 2021, according to records obtained by NBC News. It was his decision to wait to confront the gunman in Uvalde, officials said last week.
“Of course, it was not the right decision,” said Director of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw. “It was a wrong decision. Period.”
The TCOLE training materials suggests officers at the scene did not follow protocol. The material makes clear an officer’s “first priority is to move in and confront the attacker” — even if it means going in alone. The training states that although it is “obviously safer” to deploy a team of at least four to stop an active shooter, a single officer is expected to act since “time is the number one enemy” and requires an “immediate response to reduce the loss of life.”
“In many cases that immediate response means a single (solo) officer response until such times as other forces can arrive,” the training states. “The best hope that innocent victims have is that officers immediately move into action to isolate, distract or neutralize the threat, even if that means one officer acting alone.”
In Uvalde, 19 officers entered the school but remained in the hallway, according to McCraw, believing the situation had turned into a barricaded subject instead of an active threat.
The required training states that only when a subject is isolated, can’t escape and “can do no more harm to students, staff, or visitors” are officers “not obligated to enter the room to deal with the attacker.”
“First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm’s way and display uncommon acts of courage to save the innocent,” the training states.
The training states there are three primary goals when responding to an active shooter: isolate, distract and neutralizing the attacker.
Officers warned of reaction to ‘perceived failure to respond’
The TCOLE training also warned of public outrage “for a perceived failure to respond” noting several officers “have been criticized” after events, like the shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.
“Video footage of an officer ‘staging’ outside the building while the attack in Parkland was going on drew a great deal of public criticism,” the training said. “There has been significant public and legislative debate about sanctioning peace officers who fail to act act to stop the carnage during active shooter events at schools.”
The armed guard, who was present outside the school in Parkland, was criminally charged with multiple counts of child neglect and culpable negligence. He is awaiting trial.
“Citizens have a reasonable expectation,” the training added, “that police officers are willing to take risks to reduce casualties” to stop an active shooter and save lives.