What went wrong in the police response to the Uvalde shooting?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Uvalde police.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

The Justice Department is launching a review of the police response to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, which left 19 fourth-grade children and two teachers dead last week. After initial reports of a quick response, state officials said 19 local law enforcement officers stood outside the adjoining classrooms where the 18-year-old suspect, Salvador Ramos, had shut himself in with the fourth graders. The officers were waiting for tactical gear and room keys, while a child inside reportedly placed several 911 calls. "Please send police now," she said to a dispatcher in a call 40 minutes after her first whispered plea for help. The commander on the scene decided not to have the officers storm in, believing the situation had "transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject," Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said. "It was the wrong decision. Period."

Criticism of the police intensified as smartphone videos circulated showing desperate parents in the parking lot of the school, Robb Elementary, begging officers who were wearing bulletproof vests and carrying semiautomatic rifles to go inside. "They're little kids and they don't know how to defend themselves!" a man cried in one of the videos. Officers stopped one parent from slipping past yellow crime-scene tape and rushing inside. Another mother jumped a fence and rescued her two children herself. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) initially praised the police response, but as details emerged he said he had been "misled" and called for state law enforcement officials to "get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty." What does the controversy over the response say about the ability of police to stop school shooters?

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.