An entire school police force in Uvalde, Texas, has been suspended partly as a result of parents’ protest over the fallout from police response to the May 24 mass school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in the city.
“The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) has made the decision to suspend all activities of the Uvalde CISD Police Department for a period of time,” a statement from the CISD said on Friday.
The department now includes four officers and one security guard.
“The District has requested the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide additional troopers for campus and extra-curricular activities,” the statement said.
Officers currently employed will fill other roles in the district, the statement said, adding that Lt. Miguel Hernandez, who was tasked with leading the department in the fallout from the shooting, and Ken Mueller, the Uvalde CISD director of student services, were placed on administrative leave. Mueller has elected to retire.
The move came a day after the firing of Crimson Elizondo, the officer who was hired by the Uvalde school district despite being under investigation for her conduct as the first Department of Public Safety trooper to enter the hallway at Robb Elementary School after the gunman gained entry.
She did not bring her rifle or vest into the school at the time, ABC News reported, citing an internal investigation.
Since last week, about a dozen of victims’ families and local residents have been holding a round-the-clock vigil outside the school district headquarters, demanding the school district hold all school police officers accountable for their delayed action during the May 24 shooting.
A total of 376 law enforcement agents, including the school police officers, responded to the shooting but failed to intervene for 74 minutes.
Then Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, who was widely blamed for the botched law enforcement response, was fired in August in a unanimous vote by the Uvalde school board.
A Texas House committee’s report said that under the district’s active shooter plan, he would have been the incident commander.
“Those were the people that failed us. They didn’t protect the children or the staff,” a parent said at a community meeting before the new school year started in early September.
“You’ve dug a big hole… You’ve got to get out of this hole someway somehow,” another parent told city and school district officials at the meeting.
The Robb Elementary School, where the shooting took place, has been closed since then.
Children who would have gone to Robb now instead go to another two elementary schools in the city.
A virtual academy is also available for families who don’t want to send their students back to school.