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7 Texas DPS officers to be investigated in Uvalde shooting response

Officials have said around 91 DPS personnel responded to the scene on May 24.

UVALDE, Texas — Seven Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers have now been referred to the state Inspector General's Office for a formal investigation into their actions during the Uvalde school shooting on May 24. That marks seven out of a reported 91 DPS personnel who reportedly responded to the scene.

As of Sept. 14, an additional two officers have been identified in the DPS' review, according to an update provided by CNN. That adds to the five previously reported. It is still unknown what actions these officers took on May 24 to cause their referrals to the investigation. 

KVUE and Austin American-Statesman's reporter Tony Plohetski confirmed on Sept. 6 that the first five officers were identified as part of a review that the DPS announced in July. So far, at least two of the officers have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Inspector General's Office will now help determine if any policy violations happened among that group, as well as any potential violations of training or disciplinary actions they could face. Officials have not provided an immediate timeline on this investigation.

In addition, the DPS released a letter from July – which can be read in full at the bottom of this article – in which DPS officers were instructed that they should treat any person who fires a weapon at a school as an "active shooter until he is neutralized." That person can never be treated as a "barricaded subject." 

During the tragedy, officers waited over an hour inside the hallways as the shooter was barricaded inside a classroom. In total, he killed 19 children and two teachers that day before officials broke into the classroom and killed him.

"As Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw stated during his testimony before the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans back in June, the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary on May 24 was an abject failure," the Texas DPS said in a statement Tuesday. "In law enforcement, when one officer fails, we all fail."

Tuesday's news comes as Uvalde CISD held its first day of classes, marking a delay as school administrators worked to update safety and security protocols.

Texas DPS letter:

Fellow employees, 

On May 24 the citizens of Uvalde experienced one of the worst things imaginable and in the wake of this awful tragedy, we have a responsibility to examine what could have been done differently to prevent it from happening in the first place. It’s not easy to be critical of ourselves and others during such difficult times, but we must be willing to do whatever is necessary to help the victims and their families begin to heal.

One of the most important things a parent can do is talk to their children about what they hear, see, and share online. In the aftermath of any tragedy of this nature, there are almost always indicators from the attacker on social media platforms. Parents, students, teachers, or any member of a particular community all hold the power of prevention in their hands simply by reporting suspicious activity or behavior as soon as they witness it. DPS analysts and officers have successfully foiled plans of would-be attackers thanks to information provided by the public; however, threats to schools are persistent and we must remain ever vigilant.  

Governor Abbott has taken significant action to provide all available resources to support the Uvalde community, but he doesn’t want to stop there. The Governor has directed the Texas Education Agency and DPS to unify how suspicious activities which may threaten our schools are reported statewide using the iWatchTexas app. As a result, more resources will be dedicated to improving how the public can utilize this important tool. While it’s important to do everything we can to prevent future attacks, we also need to be better prepared when they occur. 

In public testimony before the Senate Committee to Protect Texas, I stated that the law enforcement response to the active shooter attack at Robb Elementary School was an abject failure. Every agency that responded that day shares in this failure, including DPS. Although I remain highly critical of the decision to treat the incident as a barricaded subject by the ranking Consolidated Independent School District police official at the scene, DPS and other agencies must also be held accountable for their actions or inactions. It is clear from the evidence law enforcement should have treated this situation as an active shooter event. The ongoing criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers includes the examination of the actions of every law enforcement officer who responded to the scene.   That investigation remains ongoing until the District Attorney in Uvalde is satisfied that she has enough information to assess whether there is criminal culpability by any of the responding officers.  

As a public safety agency, we have an obligation to hold ourselves to the highest standards.  That is why DPS has formed an internal committee to review the department’s response to the massacre at Robb Elementary. Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Services Jeoff Williams is leading the committee which includes members from the department’s Training Operations Division, Office of Inspector General, Office of General Counsel, and Special Operations Group. Members are currently reviewing and examining the actions of every DPS Trooper, Special Agent and Texas Ranger who responded to Robb Elementary to determine if any violations of policy or the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training doctrine occurred.   

The department has a duty to constantly improve its active shooter protocols and capabilities. To help promote better decision making in the future and to encourage more training, DPS regions are instructed to work with our local law enforcement partners to conduct active shooter training and exercises in every school district in Texas. Additionally, we are in the process of purchasing “go bags” containing breaching equipment and ballistic shields for all DPS officers.   

DPS will continue to embrace the ALERRT doctrine, but with one important addition. DPS Officers responding to an active shooter at a school will be authorized to overcome any delay to neutralizing an attacker. When a subject fires a weapon at a school he remains an active shooter until he is neutralized and is not to be treated as a “barricaded subject”.  We will provide proper training and guidelines for recognizing and overcoming poor command decisions at an active shooter scene.   

Thank you for all that you do to protect Texas,
Steven C. McCraw
Director

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