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A woman cries at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on 30 May 2022. Grieving families were to hold the first funerals Tuesday for Texas shooting victims one week after a school massacre left 19 children and two teachers dead, with U.S. President Joe Biden vowing to push for stricter US gun regulation. Mourners attended wakes in the town of Uvalde on Monday for some of the child victims gunned down by a local 18-year-old man who was then killed by police. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Investigation Finds Uvalde Police Officers “Acted in Good Faith” While Responding to School Shooting

Uvalde police officers responding to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in 2022 “acted in good faith” and did not violate protocol, according to a report commissioned by the City of Uvalde that was released on Thursday.

The report was the result of an investigation by Jesse Prado, owner and investigator for JPPI Investigations who is also a former Austin Police Department detective. Prado was hired by City of Uvalde Attorney Paul J. Tarski to review actions of the 28 Uvalde police officers and three dispatchers who responded to the shooting and determine if they violated policy.

Based on interviews with officers and dispatchers, and a review of some evidence from the incident, Prado wrote that all officers acted in good faith and did not violate policies for responding to the shooting, which killed 19 students and two teachers. Prado shared the results of the investigation in a City Council meeting in Uvalde on Thursday evening; several victims’ family members walked out of the meeting in response, according to the Associated Press.

Neither Prado nor Tarski returned Security Management’s request for comment on this article.

While the report cleared officers of wrongdoing, it did highlight many problems with the delayed response to the shooting. This included an inability of police officers on scene to clearly communicate with each other due to radio malfunctions, chaotic management of the scene due to the sheer number of officers who self-reported to the school, and concerns about how to breach the classroom door to enter the room and engage the shooter.

Prado’s report, for instance, assessed that the active shooter training many of the officers had conducted had not included a training scenario on what to do in a situation “where the active shooter is in a closed confined location within the school,” like the situation that unfolded at Uvalde.

Inside the classroom at Robb Elementary, the shooter was armed with an AR-15. Its bullets were capable of piercing wood, sheetrock, and the outswing door to enter the classroom. Responding officers in the hallway outside the classroom believed the door was locked and did not have the equipment they thought they needed, such as SWAT support and ballistic shields, to enter the classroom without potentially experiencing extreme physical harm.

This is because unlike an inswing door which can often be quickly breached by one person with a battering ram, outswing doors typically require officers to stand in the doorway and use a door spreader or Halligan tool to breach the door, says Jin Kim, retired FBI active shooter subject matter expert and founding principal of the PerSec Academy.

This “requires the Halligan breacher to be very exposed,” Kim adds, who explained that the officers’ sense of physical vulnerability and danger could have been factors as to why they did not regain tactical momentum to breach the door sooner.

“That is one thing in training that’s taken for granted. A door being locked may slow you up, and rounds coming through that door is another variable that makes humans react—self preservation becomes a priority,” Kim says.

Many of the officers who responded to the scene at Robb Elementary had completed at least one round of active shooter response training at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University. The Center is a partnership between Texas State University; the San Marcos, Texas Police Department; and the Hays County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office. In 2013, it was named the National Standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the FBI.

Pete Blair, executive director of the ALERRT Center, says that some agencies take a check-the-box approach to training, where it’s assumed that if you complete training once in your career you have been trained. “That’s not the case,” he adds.

Many of the Uvalde police officers had completed the level one course through ALERRT, which is designed to be an introductory course to show the landscape of active shooter response. Blair says there is still work to be done after completing that level one course.

After the Uvalde shooting, Texas law now reflects ALERRT’s approach that more regular training is needed for an effective response. Law enforcement officers are now required to complete 16 hours of active shooter training each year, which Blair recommends be done in one hour training sessions throughout the year to review past information.

Guy Bliesner, founding member of the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security who serves as a school safety and security analyst for schools in southeast Idaho, says that it is also critical for school officials to train with their first responders to ensure they are well acquainted with the facilities.

“The other piece is make the building layouts, keys to open doors, and all those things readily available in some fashion,” Bliesner adds. For instance, providing police officers with keycards to access the school or placing master keys and building plans in locked drawers in administrator’s offices where law enforcement can access them in an emergency.

Prado’s report also assessed issues with the chain-of-command in the response to the incident at Robb Elementary, including the hierarchical culture of law enforcement where officers are used to following a strict chain of command.

The highest-ranking officer with jurisdiction over the school who was on scene was Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) Chief Pete Arredondo, followed by Constable Johnny Field—the Southwest Texas Junior College Academy Coordinator. These individuals were responsible for declaring the shooting a barricade incident, instead of an active shooter, which many officers said changed the course of the response.

“Constable Field is respected, and it would be reasonable for an officer or group of officers, not in command of the incident, to follow lawful orders from the incident commander and the training academy coordinator, even if they may not agree with the order,” Prado wrote.

Kim was part of stakeholder group that worked with ALERRT in 2013 on training related to command structure, ultimately establishing language and training understandings for active shooter response that first officers on the scene, “work the problem, gain actual intel, and don’t wait to be told what to do.”

Blair said that they have been working on incident command issues and that ALERRT has a class focused on building incident command structure, including teaching how fire, EMS, and police work together to respond to an incident. But he acknowledges that it is a tough space.

“You can’t have officers decide to disregard commands of their superiors,” Blair says, adding that at the same time it’s clear that the incident commander’s assessment was not particularly accurate, and actions taken were not as good as they could have been. This is why it’s important to also have a culture where lower officers can ask questions to “try to prod officers forward,” Blair adds.


Other issues in the response at Uvalde that were highlighted in Prado’s report included that police officers in the hallway attempted on 28 occasions to transmit on the radio that they were approaching the classroom, but dispatchers and responding officers were not able to hear them because the radios gave a tone that the repeaters were not working.

Additionally, a dispatcher told Prado that one of the biggest issues she had was with the U.S. Border Patrol, which also responded to the incident, patching into the radio channel without notifying the dispatcher, resulting in a major influx of people on the radio.

ALERRT calls this “over convergence,” where officers from agencies in the immediate area respond to a threatening situation because they are trying to help, Blair says. “That’s desirable at first…but there’s a point after that where you have to try to control that flow of people arriving on scene.”

For instance, ALERRT recommends that the first officer on the scene act as the incident commander—calling out instructions and moving forward into the building to address the threat. Other officers might join that first officer to assist, but at a certain point Blair says the arriving officers need to realize that they should not keep flooding the scene. That’s when there needs to be a transfer of command to an officer outside the building and establishment of a staging area.

“Once staging is set, you don’t get to self-deploy into the scene anymore,” Blair says. “You have to report to staging. And you don’t leave staging till you’re given a task and purpose by the staging manager.”

It’s also key that incident commanders send out the call to stop officers self-deploying to the scene when the extra presence is not needed. This means recognizing that “they have enough people there, and more people arriving on scene is going to congest the area and make it difficult,” Blair adds.

Prado’s report ended with a series of recommendations from Paul Ford, a former Austin Police Department detective who developed the department's Homicide in Progress School (HIPS) in response to the Columbine High School shooting.

Ford's recommendations included amending Uvalde Police Department’s active shooter response purpose policy to place more emphasis on prioritizing immediate and decisive action during an active shooter situation, creating an officer active shooter readiness training curriculum that exceeds the minimum requirements of Texas law, and providing additional training for officers on breaching tools.

“The nature of tactical operations and the culture of tactical units encourage open debriefing and self-criticism,” according to the report. “Therefore, the suggestions for remediation should be viewed in a positive light, aimed at correcting deficiencies, resolving noted issues, and contributing positively to a more effective and responsive tactical framework for the Uvalde Police Department.”

Many of the failures acknowledged in Prado’s report were also revealed in assessments by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), an ALERRT after-action report, and findings by a Texas investigatory committee.

The DOJ analysis was published in January 2024 and found that law enforcement had “cascading failures” when responding to the incident.

“The most significant failure was that responding officers should have immediately recognized the incident as an active shooter situation, using the resources and equipment that were sufficient to push forward immediately and continuously toward the threat until entry was made into classrooms,” according to the report.

Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell’s Office is also conducting a criminal investigation into the response to the shooting.

“At least five officers who were on the scene have lost their jobs, including two Department of Public Safety officers and the on-site commander, Pete Arredondo, the former school police chief,” the AP reports. “No officers have faced criminal charges.”

For more resources on improving school security, check out our recent series on School Security and Early Intervention. To learn more about proactive approaches to active assailant threats, check out our ongoing coverage here.