Officer Uwalde, Texas, took more than an hour to kill the shooter who killed 19 children, and that time span is likely to be a key part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the police response.
Following the massacre at Columbine High School more than 20 years ago, police were prepared to quickly confront shooters in the horrific attacks that have taken place.
But it took Uwalde, Texas, more than an hour to kill the shooter who killed 19 children, and that time span is likely to be a key part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the police response.
A rare federal review comes amid growing, painful issues and changing information from police. Authorities now say several officers entered the elementary school just two minutes after the alleged gunman Salvador Ramos exchanged fire with him, but it was not stopped until a tactical group entered the classroom more than an hour later.
This is confusing deadlines for law enforcement experts such as Jarad Burguan, who was police chief in San Bernardino, California, when in 2015 the city was committed by a terrorist attack that killed 14 people. Officers entered the facility, a training center for residents with developmental disabilities, within two minutes of arrival.
“Columbine changed everything,” Bourguignon said Monday. Now officers are learning to form and enter buildings to confront shooters as quickly as possible to prevent them from killing more people. “It’s been drilled in this industry for years.”
Justice Department officials investigating the Texas killings will consider many questions about the police response in Uwald. A similar review, which largely praised the reaction to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, was more than 100 pages long.
Announcing the review, Justice Ministry spokesman Anthony Collie said it would be conducted in a fair, impartial and independent manner and the results would be made public. This may take months. The review is handled by the Department of Public Police Services of the Department.
One of the key issues for Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, is why the school district police chief had the right to order more than a dozen officers to wait in the corridor of Robb Uwalde Elementary School.
“The key question for me is who appointed him chief?” she said.
Officials said he believed the suspect had barricaded himself in nearby classrooms and the active threat was no more. But school police officers don’t usually have the most experience in active shooters, and Haberfeld wondered why people with more specialized training didn’t take the helm.
The U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Group finally used the key to the janitor to unlock the classroom door and kill the gunman, raising more questions about choosing an entrance.
“This is not some fortified castle of the Middle Ages. This is a door, ”she said. “They knew what to do. You don’t need a key. “
Another important area that investigators will consider is communication, said Thor Ils, executive director of the National Association of Tactical Officers. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
“I think we need to be patient and wait to make sure we understand what thinking is,” Ils said. “It goes back to communication. What information did they have? ”
The review will also likely examine how well officers were prepared for outfits like weapons and body armor. The shooter was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, a powerful weapon capable of piercing the main body armor.
In previous shootings reviewed by the Ministry of Justice, non-specialized law enforcement agencies did not have the body armor needed for full protection.
During the 2016 massacre, which killed 49 people and injured dozens more in the LGBT community at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a detective at the scene exchanged with a suspected shooter, knowing that his gun “does not match” with the weapon. which was released in 2016. club. Despite this, the first officers at the scene gathered in a team to quickly enter the club and begin the search for the shooter, the report said.
At the same time in San Bernardino only one of the first officers had a gun, and a few had no body armor. But they still used their training in active shooting situations to form a team of four officers to enter the complex immediately.
Rapid movement is important not only to prevent the shooter from killing more people, but also to help the wounded. In San Bernardino and Orlando, reviews by the Justice Department note a quick response to the delivery of the wounded for treatment within the “golden hour” if the victims are likely to survive.
It is unclear what impact delaying admission to a Texas class could have on any of the children who were injured and in need of treatment for more than an hour’s drive to San Antonio.
Police really need to quickly analyze the risks to themselves and others in a tough, rapidly changing situation, but they are also trained to prevent people from getting hurt, Ils said.
“It’s very, very, very dangerous to break into this room,” he said. “But we are consciously and voluntarily taking this risk because our priorities are to help those who cannot help themselves.”
Whitehurst reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Gary Fields of Washington contributed to this report.
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