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Friday, July 1, 2022

School District Police Chief Uwalde placed on furlough due to ongoing criticism

Pete Arredondo, police chief of the Uvalde, Texas school district, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday amid criticism of law enforcement’s response to the Robb Elementary School massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers last month.

Hal Harrell, superintendent of Uvalde Unified Independent School District, said that while the district originally planned to wait for the investigation into the shooting to be completed before making personnel decisions, his office “still didn’t know the details” and made the decision to suspend Arredondo. from service while these investigations are ongoing.

“Due to a lack of clarity and an unknown timeline for the results of the investigation, I have taken the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective from that date,” Harrell said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Arredondo’s leave is paid or unpaid. He will be replaced by Lieutenant Mike Hernandez.

The warden came under scrutiny after the May 24 mass shooting amid reports that officers from several agencies quickly arrived at the school to confront the shooter, but then took more than an hour to enter the classroom where he hid.

This week, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Colonel Steve McCraw, criticized law enforcement, saying their response was a “terrible failure” and that the police “decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children.” McCraw said three minutes after the shooter entered the school, there were enough cops at the scene to stop him, adding that police never checked the classroom door to make sure it was locked, instead waiting for the key more hours.

“The officers had weapons; the kids didn’t have them,” McCraw told The Texas Tribune this week. “The officers were wearing body armor; the children did not have. Officers have been trained; the subject did not have. One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. This is how long the children and teachers in room 111 waited to be rescued.”

Arredondo was described as the on-scene incident commander at the time of the attack, but the superior said he did not hold himself responsible as the shooting unfolded. He defended the officers’ actions, saying that his goal was to get to the school “as quickly as possible, remove any threats and protect students and staff.”

“None of the officers who came to the rescue ever hesitated, even for a moment, to risk themselves to save the children,” Arredondo said in an interview with the Tribune this month. “We reacted to the information we had and had to adapt to whatever we encountered.”

Arredondo, who was elected to the Uvalde city council on May 7, was recently denied leave as the investigation into the shooting continues. The city council said he could be removed from his seat if he missed the next two meetings.

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World Nation News Desk
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