US News: US Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Uvalde ahead of the report’s release, showing the significance and gravity of the situation. Justice department officials privately briefed family members before making the findings public.
The justice department report criticizes the police officials’ response to the Uvalde school shooting, stating that they demonstrated no urgency in setting up a command post and failed to treat the incident as an active shooter situation. Cascading failures in law enforcement’s handling of the situation are identified, contributing to the crisis lasting longer than necessary.
The shooting on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two staff members, making it one of the deadliest massacres in American school history. The Uvalde community, with a population of over 15,000, continues to grapple with the trauma left by the tragedy, and there are ongoing debates regarding accountability for the officers’ actions and inaction.
Families of victim’s express outrage, with some labeling the police as cowards and demanding resignations. “They let our children die while they hid behind their cars,” said one parent.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services initiated the review shortly after the shooting, and local prosecutors are conducting a separate criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers. Several officers involved in the incident have already lost their jobs. At least five officers, including two Department of Public Safety officers and the Uvalde school police chief, have lost their jobs, reflecting the serious consequences of the inadequate response.
The incident has been previously scrutinized in legislative hearings and news reports. A damning report by Texas lawmakers faulted law enforcement at every level for failing to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety. Video footage showing police waiting outside the classrooms where the gunman opened fire has become the target of national ridicule, further intensifying public scrutiny.
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Initially, Texas Governor Greg Abbott praised the courage of the officers’ response, but blame later shifted heavily onto local authorities in Uvalde. An 80-page report from a panel of state lawmakers and investigations by journalists revealed critical details about the delayed response and police actions during the shooting.
The delayed response contradicts established active-shooter training, which emphasizes confronting the gunman promptly, highlighting a deviation from standard protocols. Families of victims criticize the police as not following established procedures, referring to them as cowards.
There are ongoing calls for accountability for the officers’ actions and inaction during the Uvalde school shooting. “We want justice for our children, and we want the truth to come out,” said another parent.
The report points out array of problems, including failed communication and leadership issues within law enforcement during the incident. Inadequate technology and training are also cited as contributing factors to the shortcomings in the response.
The justice department report is expected to offer recommendations for improving the police response to future mass shootings, as well as providing lessons learned from the Uvalde tragedy.