Uwald School District suspends entire police force over shooting

The Uwald School District, Texas – which still faces heavy criticism for its police department’s failures during the May 24 elementary school massacre and since – announced Friday the suspension of the entire district police force.

The district said it is requesting additional Texas Department of Public Safety personnel to be stationed on campus and at extracurricular activities, adding: “We are confident that the safety of staff and students will not be compromised during this transition. “

It is unclear how long the school district police department will be closed.

Photo: A police officer walks out of Rob Elementary School in Uwald, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

A police officer walks out of Rob Elementary School in Uwald, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

Alison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Lieutenant Miguel Hernandez and Uwald Integrated Independent School District Student Services Director Ken Mueller were placed on administrative leave to lead the department’s response to the aftermath of the shooting, The shooting killed 19 students and two teachers.

Hernandez admitted in a law enforcement newsletter in August that he had received formal notice from DPS that an officer who applied to Uvalde School Police was being investigated because of her reaction at Robb Elementary School.

Mueller has opted to retire, according to the school district.

“Officials currently employed will serve in other roles within the district,” the district said. That included four officers and a security guard, according to the district’s website.

The victim’s family, led by guardian Brett Cross of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, held a 24/7 vigil outside the district headquarters, calling for change. The families are now applauding Friday’s announcement.

Photo: Families of victims of Robb Elementary School and their supporters demonstrate at the Uvalde School District office on September 9.  February 29, 2022.

Families of victims of Robb Elementary School and their supporters demonstrate at the Uvalde School District office on September 9. February 29, 2022.

Kate Holland/ABC News

“They don’t know how to hire people, they don’t know how to vet officers,” Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexie was killed at Rob Elementary School, told ABC News. “They didn’t provide proper training.”

Friday’s news was “what we’ve been asking for — more than we’ve been asking for,” she said.

Photo: Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, a student killed at Rob Elementary School, holds a press conference by Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke on September 9 )'s mother, Kimberly Rubio, was comforted after speaking.  February 30, 2022, Edinburgh, Texas.

Kimberly Rubio, mother of Robb Elementary slain student Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, was comforted after a news conference in Fountain Park by Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke and the families of some of the children killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in Fountain Park Friday, 9 moon. February 30, 2022, Edinburgh, Texas.

Joel Martinez/AP Monitor

Gloria Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter Jackie was killed, called Friday’s statement “a mixed blessing.”

“It’s a victory — a small victory,” she told ABC News. “We’re not done yet.”

The school district’s move comes a day after Crimson Elizondo was fired, hired by the Uvalde school district despite an ongoing investigation into her conduct as a DPS soldier during the massacre.

Elizondo was the first DPS member to enter Robb’s corridor after the shooter entered. The officer did not bring her rifle or vest into the school, according to an internal review detailed to ABC News by DPS.

The soldier is one of seven DPS personnel whose conduct is currently being investigated by the agency’s inspector general due to a possible failure to follow standard procedures. However, the seven were suspended as Elizondo resigned from DPS to work for Uvalde School and she is no longer subject to any internal discipline or punishment. Her actions – if found to violate law or policy – will still be included in the DPS Inspector General’s final report.

The school district said in a statement Friday that a “decision” “about” the district police department had been pending the results of an investigation by the Texas Association of Chiefs of Police and the private investigation firm JPPI, but “recent developments have uncovered how the department operates.” other concerns.”

The results of the JPPI investigation “will inform future personnel decisions,” and the Texas Association of Police Chiefs’ review “will guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new police chief,” the statement said.

School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired in August.

ABC News’ Patrick Linehan and Olivia Osteen contributed to this report.

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