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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Two decades of tactical training overlooked in Uvalde

A total of 376 officers gathered at Rob Elementary School in Euvalde, Texas, which is more than the total police force in the United States in a medium-sized city such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Tempe, Arizona. But on 24 May, no one stopped the attacker for more than 70 minutes.

They kept waiting amidst the sound of continuous gunshots from the school. By the time they entered and killed 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, 19 children and two teachers had been killed or seriously injured.

The response runs counter to proactive gunnery training that emphasizes confronting the attacker, a standard established more than two decades after the Columbine High School massacre that showed waiting costs remain.

“It will set the police forces back by 20 years. In fact,” said Greg Shaffer, a retired FBI agent who is now a security consultant in Dallas. “It was a disaster of mistakes.”

It is unknown how many people were shot at Robb Elementary School while police waited, but delays also meant it took longer for the injured to receive potentially life-saving medical care, Schaefer told Sunday. Added after report. An investigative committee report released by the Texas House of Representatives detailed the chaotic response.

“You have to recognize that there are people who need immediate medical attention,” he declared. “The terminology we use in training is, ‘You have to stop the killings before they can stop the murders.'”

It was a sad lesson from the 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, where more than half the people were killed before they could get emergency care, he said.

From the outset, police tactics in Uvalde fell short of most standard operating procedures, Shaffer revealed. Instead of simultaneously moving forward, one of the first three agents followed the other and the other stopped. And among the first responders, two of them had long guns and the third had a pistol, which could have been enough to counter the attacker. “Those are excellent prospects. I’ll take those opportunities any day of the week.”

Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that as more officers arrived at the scene, instead of acting as a coercive force to kill the attacker, they lacked cohesion or leadership. This is mainly because they belonged to different agencies that did not communicate efficiently with each other, they worried that something might happen again.

“You have many departments that do not regularly work together to respond to a crisis situation. It’s chaotic, it’s unprofessional, it sucks,” he said. “It’s the best example of the worst-case scenario I’ve been predicting for years, that this multiplication of agencies will result in disaster.”

Criminal charges are likely to be filed against police officers, but liability lawsuits are more likely, Shaffer said. A handful of local officials have been placed on administrative leave, including Uvalde’s interim police chief and the school district police chief, but the vast majority of respondents were from state or federal agencies. Including around 150 border patrol agents and 91 state police.

“I think a lot of people need to lose their jobs,” Shaffer said.

Overall, Sunday’s report and more than three hours of body camera footage from the May 24 tragedy represent the most comprehensive account to date of one of the worst school shootings in American history. Some relatives of the victims called the police cowards and demanded their resignation.

Frank Straub, director of the Center for the Prevention of Selective Violence at the National Police Institute, said the chaos over who was the commander in charge of the incident is something that often happens between departments working together. Although the situation created confusion, the basic point of failure was to confront the attacker as quickly as possible.

“The responsibility is to neutralize the attacker. Stop the shooting, stop the bloodshed. That’s the order,” said Straub, a former police chief. “When the protective equipment arrived, bulletproof vests, bulletproof helmets, carrying them as per protocol Should have been. It was his responsibility to stop the shooting.”

Even during the break in the shooting, he “had to realize that there were students and teachers in those classes and that they needed immediate medical attention if they were to survive”, he said.


Associated Press editor Gary Fields contributed to this report.

World Nation News Desk
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