Texas shooting: Inaction has consequences, experts say

According to experts, the police’s decision to wait before confronting the gunman at Robb Primary School in Uvalde was a failure with dire consequences. At that time, more than 19 students and two teachers died.

While 18-year-old Salvador Ramos was inside adjacent classrooms, a group of 19 law enforcement officers stood outside classrooms on campus for about 50 minutes as they waited for room keys and tactical gear, CNN reported. news. Meanwhile, kids inside the classroom kept calling 911 and begging for help, Texas officials said.

Colonel Steven McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety has admitted flaws in the police response to Tuesday’s mass shooting. The field commander, who is also the Uvalde school district sheriff, “believes it has transitioned from an active shooter to a subject of obstruction,” McCraw said.

“It was the wrong decision. There was no excuse for that,” McCraw said of the supervisor’s call not to confront the gunman.


Thor Eells, executive director of the National Association of Tactical Officers (NTAO), said the commander’s resolve was “100 percent flawed”. One barrier, he said, calls for officers to slow their response, analyze whether the subject is alone, and negotiate.

“If you’re in a classroom with innocent victims and I know the shots have been fired, I need to engage you. Even if you stop firing, I’ll go into the room so we can have a fight. can begin to manage life, says Eells.

The slow police response in Uvalde, Eells said, goes against the generally taught active shooting protocol, established after the 1999 Columbine school shooting.

“Even when shot, officers are trained to deal with that threat because every second counts,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a CNN law enforcement analyst. “What we see here is the delay that has cost the kids their lives, to a complete halt.”

As the Columbine shooting unfolded, Colorado police waited about an hour after gunfire broke out on campus for SWAT teams to arrive, of which two young men killed 13 people.

Prior to Columbine, law enforcement often trained in tactical principles known as ICE, meaning isolating (suspect), containment (suspect), and evacuation (scene). Once engaged in ICE protocol, police will request a dedicated unit from tactical SWAT teams that will respond and engage with the suspect or suspects, according to Eells.

The Columbine shooting forced law enforcement to realign their focus on responding to active shooting situations. After Columbine, police began acting on behalf of those who were being harmed instead of protecting themselves, Eells said. First responders are also beginning to undergo tactical training to prepare for active shootings, as SWAT teams bear some of the responsibility, he added.

There are no national guidelines to standardize law enforcement training and response to active shooting situations. The NTAO was the first to develop the curriculum and active shooting training courses, which have since been adopted or modified by other training organizations across the country, Eells said.

The curriculum includes safety priorities to guide decision making while officers respond to active shootings, based on how close a person is to injury or death. They have been instructed in all 50 states, according to Eells.

All trainings prioritize audience acquisition first. The safety priority list considers hostages and innocent civilians a top priority, followed by law enforcement and then suspects, Eells said.

As their tactics evolved, law enforcement realized that waiting even a few seconds to respond in an active shooting scenario had the potential for disaster, Eells said. This has prompted police training organizations to develop a more responsive strategy. Now, officers are taught to do everything they can to stop the shooter as quickly as possible and even forgo helping the wounded, Eells added.

“Unfortunately, this is a constant and ongoing learning process,” he said. “There’s a very good chance that there will be some important lessons to be learned from Uvalde, which could then find your way into our recommendations on how you can change your response.”


Eells points to a 2013 shooting at a Colorado high school showing how quick police response can lead to very different outcomes. The two-minute shooting saw a high school boy triggering a Molotov cocktail and firing his stun gun inside the school, killing a 17-year-old girl.

However, the attack could have resulted in more casualties if it weren’t for the quick response of a police chief who is working as a resource officer at the school, CNN previously reported. . Upon learning of the threat, the deputy ran to the shooter, identified himself as the deputy sheriff of the county, and told everyone to get off. While he was filming the scene, the shooter took his own life.

DPS Area Director Victor Escalon said on Thursday Ramos was not confronted by police before he entered the school.

According to Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at John Jay College, while active shooting protocols are widely recognized among 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, the underlying problem is decentralized nature. center of police standards at the local, state, and federal levels. .

“The way Uvalde officers react is consistent with the fact that they may not have the proper training,” Haberfeld said. Local police agencies are often more dependent on specialized tactical units, she said.

All law enforcement officers in Texas are trained to follow guidelines for handling active shooters. In March, the Uvalde Independent School District held active shooting training for Uvalde area law enforcement officers, according to their Facebook page.

The manual states: “The officer’s first priority is to enter and confront the attacker. This may include ignoring the injured and not responding to cries for help from children.”

Eells said the safety priority list will serve to guide officers during that time. He said the decision to wait in the hallways instead of breaking down the classroom doors put innocent people at risk while benefiting the shooter.

“All the time they were standing in the hallways,” Eells added, “even while they were evacuating the children, at the same time they were supposed to engage with the suspect.”

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