Uvalde school district suspends police department activities

Southwest

n this July 12, 2022, photo, Visitors walk past a makeshift memorial honoring those killed at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas. Parents in Uvalde, Texas, are livid about the security lapses that contributed to the school shooting this spring. They’re terrified to send their kids back to school. Yet further securing schools — such as through additional lockdown drills — is controversial. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, FILE)

(NewsNation) — The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has voted to suspend police department activities and most members of the force will be reassigned, the district announced in a news release Friday.

This move comes as UCISD police force and other law enforcement agencies are under investigation for their response to the Robb Elementary massacre, during which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

Lt. Miguel Hernadez and Ken Mueller were also placed on administrative leave, according to the release. Hernadez was the acting police chief, according to the Austin American-Statesman, and Mueller was the director of student services and has elected to retire.

Hours later, the UCISD superintendent Halm Harrell reportedly announced his retirement Friday. In a memo to staff obtained by Uvalde Leader-News, he said trustees would consider his retirement options and transition plans in a planned meeting next week. No time frame was given.

It comes days after news broke that a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who was under investigation for her response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary was later hired by the school district’s police force.

A day after CNN broke the news, the officer was terminated, and records discovered by NewsNation’s sister station KXAN indicated the school district knew she was under investigation when it offered her the position.

Records from July 28 to the UCISD Police Department informed the agency that Trooper Crimson Elizondo was under investigation by the Office of Inspector General for “actions inconsistent with training and Department requirements,” KXAN reports.

In body cam video obtained by CNN, Elizondo reportedly said while at the shooting, “if my son had been in there, I would not have been outside.”

In the statement Thursday, the district said, “Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is not consistent with the District’s expectations,” announcing she had been terminated from the district’s department.

Elizondo was one of 91 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to respond to the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24. Records show she had not gone through an active shooter training course at that time, KXAN reports.

Texas DPS is investigating at least seven of its troopers for their response to the investigation. In Friday’s statement, the Uvalde school district said decisions about the future of its police department are pending the results of an investigation by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the private firm JPPI. The two agencies are investigating the school district police department’s response to the shooting.

The Texas Police Chiefs Association is working with the district to hire a new police chief and rebuild the department, according to Friday’s news release.

The Texas DPS will now provide troopers to patrol the school district campuses. Officers with the UCISD police force will be assigned to other roles in the district, the news release said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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