Uvalde plansIn the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting, more school police officers were needed. reportsThe officers who arrived on the scene waited over an hour before they could enter the building because children were locked inside.
On Thursday, Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, announced that the district’s police department would expand the size of its force.
“It is our goal to hire additional officers to be assigned to each campus for the upcoming school year,” saidHal Harrell during a conference.
However, it’s not apparent that the shooting could have been avoided or mitigated with a larger police department.
According to The New York Times, upon arriving at the Robb Elementary School, police waited for roughly one hour and seventeen minutes in order to supply officers with “protective equipment to lower the risk to law enforcement officers.” By that time, sixty officers had surrounded the perimeter of the school.
During the delay, Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo was believed to have told the squadron that “people are going to ask why we’re taking so long.”
“We’re trying to preserve the rest of the life,” he reportedly said at the time.
Arredondo seemed to be aware that students inside the school had been injured. “We think there are some injuries in there,” he apparently told the force. “And so you know what we did, we cleared off the rest of the building so we wouldn’t have any more, besides what’s already in there, obviously.”
According to reports, investigators are still trying to figure out how many victims could have been saved by a faster law enforcement response. This may have allowed victims access to medical care sooner.
One of the victim’s grandparents, Leonard Sandoval told the Times that one of the 10-year-old inside, who later died at a hospital, might have survived if the police had breached the building sooner. “He could have been saved,” Sandoval. “The police did not go in for more than an hour. He bled out.”
Thursday, Arredondo told The Texas TribuneThe school’s only entrance was blocked by a locked steel door. This caused the delay. According to the chief, he requested a sniper, tactical equipment, and keys to unlock the door.
“Each time I tried a key I was just praying,” he told the outlet. The door was unlocked by officers after an hour and seventeen minutes. At that point, the gunman was killed.
“My mind was to get there as fast as possible, eliminate any threats, and protect the students and staff,” Arredondo said.
While much of the blame has been pinned on Arredondo’s apparent failure to adequately respond to the crisis, the police chief argued that such portrayals have been unfair.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo told the Tribune. “We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat.”
Still, as the outlet noted, Arrendondo’s explanation does not address the entirety of the circumstances behind the force’s delay. The outlet was also informed by many law enforcement experts. Tribune that “serious lapses in judgment” occurred.