Uvalde School District suspends entire police force due to fallout from shooting

The school district in Uvalde, Texas — still facing withering criticism over its police department’s failings both during the May 24 elementary school massacre and since — announced the suspension of the district’s entire police force Friday.

The district said it has requested more Texas Department of Public Safety troopers be stationed on campuses and at extracurricular activities, adding, “We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition.”

The length of the school district’s police department’s suspension is not clear.

Lt. Miguel Hernandez, who was tasked with leading the department in the fallout from the attack, and Ken Mueller, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s director of student services, were placed on administrative leave. Mueller chose to retire, according to the school district.

“Officers currently employed will fill other roles within the district,” the school district said. According to the district’s website, that includes four officers and a security guard.

The victims’ families, who had held a 24-hour vigil outside school district headquarters calling for change, said they were pleased with Friday’s announcement.

PHOTO: Family members of Robb Elementary School victims and their supporters demonstrate at Uvalde School District offices, Sept. 29, 2022.

Family members of Robb Elementary School victims and their supporters demonstrate at the Uvalde School District offices on September 29, 2022.

Kate Holland/ABC News

Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter, Lexi, was killed at Robb Elementary, praised the department-wide suspension.

“They don’t know how to hire people, they don’t know how to vet officers,” Rubio said. “They haven’t given proper training.”

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

Gloria Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jackie, was killed, called Friday’s announcement “bittersweet.”

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

The school district’s move comes a day after the firing of Crimson Elizondo, an officer who was hired by the Uvalde school district despite being under investigation for her conduct as a DPS trooper during the massacre that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Uvalde School District suspends entire police force due to fallout from shooting

An officer walks outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Elizondo was the first DPS member to enter the hallway at Robb Elementary School after the shooter gained entry. The trooper did not bring her rifle or vest to school, according to the results of an internal DPS review detailed to ABC News.

As a result of potential non-compliance with standard operating procedures, the trooper was among seven DPS personnel whose conduct is now being investigated by the agency’s inspector general. However, the seven were suspended when Elizondo resigned from DPS to work for the Uvalde schools, and she was no longer subject to any internal discipline or sanctions. Her conduct — if found to be in violation of law or policy — would still be included in the final report from the DPS inspector general.

Hernandez, the acting police chief, is the officer who acknowledged receiving formal notification from DPS in July that Elizondo was under investigation.

The school district said in Friday’s statement that “decisions regarding” the school district’s police department have been pending the results of investigations by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the private investigative firm JPPI Investigations, but “recent developments have revealed additional concerns with the department’s operations.”

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

The school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, was fired in August.

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

Leave a Comment