Officials announced Friday that the Uvalde, Texas, school district’s police department has been suspended, more than four months after a mass shooting claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. The decision was made in the midst of multiple ongoing investigations of the agency and its response to the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) executive director of communications and marketing Anne Marie Espinoza stated in a statement that the department was suspended due to “recent developments” that “uncovered new concerns with department operations.”
She stated that the UCISD police officers will “serve in different capacities within the district.” Two departmental officials, lieutenant Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller, were placed on administrative leave. Mueller then chose to resign, according to Espinoza.
During the suspension of the Uvalde Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety will supply troopers to safeguard the safety of students and faculty in Uvalde schools.
Espinoza stated, “We are certain that staff and student safety will not be jeopardized throughout this transition.”
The UCISD police department, which has been heavily criticized since the day of the incident, is still being evaluated by multiple external bodies.
In July, a damning investigation criticized “very poor judgment” by law enforcement personnel who waited more than an hour before addressing the 18-year-old shooter. Pete Arredondo, the campus police chief, was fired in August.
And on Thursday, a former Texas state trooper who had been hired by the UCISD after the incident was terminated. Crimson Elizondo was one of more than 90 state troopers and over 400 law enforcement officials that went to Robb Elementary during the tragedy, but delayed more than an hour before confronting a shooter with an AR-15-style rifle inside a fourth-grade classroom.
Espinoza stated on Tuesday that the district is collaborating with the Texas Police Chiefs Association, which will “manage the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new Chief of Police,” she said. This month is the deadline date for the report.
The UCISD police department’s reaction to the shooting is still under investigation. “Investigation results will impact future personnel decisions,” stated Espinoza.
She added, “The District is dedicated to resolving issues with verified evidence.”