Uvalde school district suspends entire police force after May shooting

Uvalde school district suspends entire police force after May shooting

Oct 7 (Reuters) – The school district in Uvalde, Texas, suspended its entire police force on Friday, pending the outcome of a probe following the mass shooting in May that killed 19 students and two teachers, the district said in a statement.

The district said it suspended all activities of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department “for a period of time.” The police force consisted of five officers and one security guard, according to its website.

The district is awaiting the results of an investigation led by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and an outside firm into the shooting at Robb Elementary School, expected to be released later this month.

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The district said it made the decision to suspend the police force because “recent developments have uncovered additional concerns with department operations.”

The district also said that as a “result of the recent developments,” one officer, Lieutenant Miguel Hernandez, was placed on administrative leave. Ken Mueller, the director of student services, was also placed on administrative leave and will retire, the district said in its statement.

The school district declined to provide more information about the suspension and the state of department operations. The police department was not available for comment.

The police department has been under investigation for its response to the shooting in May, including delays by officers in reaching the gunman while he was holed up in a classroom.

The school district said it requested additional officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide campus security.

Pete Arredondo, who led the small police force tasked with patrolling school grounds, was fired as police chief in August. He faced fierce criticism for law enforcement’s reaction.

The suspension of the police force comes more than a week after parents of children who survived the shooting sued the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, former officials, the manufacturer of the gun used in the massacre and others.

Uvalde officials came under scrutiny after nearly 400 law enforcement officers waited outside school classrooms for more than an hour before confronting and killing the shooter.

In July, the Texas legislature released a report blaming the response on “systemic failures” and poor leadership, adding that inaction allowed for the death toll to grow higher.

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Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Leslie Adler

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