On Sunday, the Justice Department declared that it will conduct a review of the law enforcement’s response to the horrible shooting that took place in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The mass shooting left 19 children and 2 teachers dead.
Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement, “At the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, the U.S. Department of Justice will conduct a Critical Incident Review of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.” This announcement came on the same day President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial to the victims.
Previously, for such mass shooting occurrences, the DOJ relied on conducting reviews through external individuals with law enforcement expertise and on-site experiences with such cases. They have also conducted direct reviews for the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California in 2015 and Pulse nightclub in Florida in 2016.
Coley also said in a statement that the ultimate goal of the review is, “to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and response that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events.” In addition, he stated, “The review will be conducted with the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing. As with prior Justice Department after-action reviews of mass shootings and other critical incidents, this assessment will be fair, transparent, and independent. The Justice Department will publish a report with its findings at the conclusion of its review.”
CNN reports that the law enforcement worked oppositely to what they were taught when such incidents occur. The active shooter protocol states that the shooter must be stopped as quickly as possible, even avoiding helping the injured in the situation. However, in this case, while the gunman was inside adjoining classrooms, 19 officers stood outside the classroom in the school for approximately 50 minutes, waiting for room keys and tactical equipment. The DOJ has probably taken this case into their own hands, due to the growing frustration and anger of people towards the response of the officers. Even after several 911 calls from students and teachers, all these officers were asked to wait in the school’s hallway by the school’s district police chief. Apparently, he believed that the gunman was trapped inside the adjoining classroom and assumed that there was no active shooting going on.
This revelation has led to more questions, doubts, and more grief, as to whether the incident could have been prevented had the officers reacted quickly and according to the protocol. Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, said on Friday that he demands a full account of what actually occurred in the school, saying that he had initially been misinformed about some information provided by the officers leading the investigation. He said in a statement, “My expectation is the law enforcement leaders that are leading the investigations … they get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty.”
It’s not clear yet how the review will be conducted or when it might be completed. Though the gunman was killed by Border Police tactical officers, such a revelation shows the responsibility of assuming can be so critical and dangerous and the officers probably deserve such scrutiny and anger for not taking action sooner than later. Nevertheless, the grief and devastation will always remain in the family and the community.