UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Five Department of Public Safety law enforcement officers will be investigated by the Office of Inspector General 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.
DPS called the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary on May 24 an “abject failure,” and said that “when one officer fails, we all fail.”
In July, DPS announced the formation of an internal committee to review the department’s response to the massacre.
The OIG will determine if the officers violated policy that dictates officers immediately confront active shooters.
A Texas House committee investigation found that after officers were initially held back by gunfire, they waited more than an hour before taking action against the gunman. More than 370 law enforcement officers responded to the massacre.
There have been questions about who was actually in charge of the scene. Last month, the school board fired embattled Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo over what happened. Arredondo has disputed points in the state lawmakers’ report.
DPS has also released an internal letter, which was sent by Director McCraw to all DPS employees in July focused on school safety and an addition to the department’s protocol on active shooter situations.
In the letter McCraw says, “DPS officers responding to an active shooter at a school will be authorized to overcome any delay in neutralizing an attacker. When a subject fires a weapon at a school he remains an active shooter until he is neutralized and is not to be treated as a barricaded subject.”
Read the full letter below.
On May 24 the citizens of Uvalde experienced one of the worst things imaginable and in the wake of this awful tragedy, we have a responsibility to examine what could have been done differently to prevent it from happening in the first place. It’s not easy to be critical of ourselves and others during such difficult times, but we must be willing to do whatever is necessary to help the victims and their families begin to heal.
One of the most important things a parent can do is talk to their children about what they hear, see, and share online. In the aftermath of any tragedy of this nature, there are almost always indicators from the attacker on social media platforms. Parents, students, teachers, or any member of a particular community all hold the power of prevention in their hands simply by reporting suspicious activity or behavior as soon as they witness it. DPS analysts and officers have successfully foiled plans of would-be attackers thanks to information provided by the public; however, threats to schools are persistent and we must remain ever vigilant.
Governor Abbott has taken significant action to provide all available resources to support the Uvalde community, but he doesn’t want to stop there. The Governor has directed the Texas Education Agency and DPS to unify how suspicious activities which may threaten our schools are reported statewide using the iWatchTexas app. As a result, more resources will be dedicated to improving how the public can utilize this important tool. While it’s important to do everything we can to prevent future attacks, we also need to be better prepared when they occur.
In public testimony before the Senate Committee to Protect Texas, I stated that the law enforcement response to the active shooter attack at Robb Elementary School was an abject failure. Every agency that responded that day shares in this failure, including DPS. Although I remain highly critical of the decision to treat the incident as a barricaded subject by the ranking Consolidated Independent School District police official at the scene, DPS and other agencies must also be held accountable for their actions or inactions. It is clear from the evidence law enforcement should have treated this situation as an active shooter event. The ongoing criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers includes the examination of the actions of every law enforcement officer who responded to the scene. That investigation remains ongoing until the District Attorney in Uvalde is satisfied that she has enough information to assess whether there is criminal culpability by any of the responding officers.
As a public safety agency, we have an obligation to hold ourselves to the highest standards. That is why DPS has formed an internal committee to review the department’s response to the massacre at Robb Elementary. Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Services Jeoff Williams is leading the committee which includes members from the department’s Training Operations Division, Office of Inspector General, Office of General Counsel, and Special Operations Group. Members are currently reviewing and examining the actions of every DPS Trooper, Special Agent and Texas Ranger who responded to Robb Elementary to determine if any violations of policy or the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training doctrine occurred.
The department has a duty to constantly improve its active shooter protocols and capabilities. To help promote better decision making in the future and to encourage more training, DPS regions are instructed to work with our local law enforcement partners to conduct active shooter training and exercises in every school district in Texas. Additionally, we are in the process of purchasing “go bags” containing breaching equipment and ballistic shields for all DPS officers.
DPS will continue to embrace the ALERRT doctrine, but with one important addition. DPS Officers responding to an active shooter at a school will be authorized to overcome any delay to neutralizing an attacker. When a subject fires a weapon at a school he remains an active shooter until he is neutralized and is not to be treated as a “barricaded subject”. We will provide proper training and guidelines for recognizing and overcoming poor command decisions at an active shooter scene.
Thank you for all that you do to protect Texas,
Steven C. McCrawDPS Director Steven McCraw in a letter to all DPS employees
Investigative Reporter Kelly Wiley and Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden contributed to this story.