Expert says officers in Uvalde did not follow training

An FBI special agent on Monday claimed that police officers in Uvalde, Texas, did not follow their training when a gunman entered Robb Elementary School one week ago.

Agent Katherine Schweit, who created the agency’s active shooter program, said in a New York Times op-ed that, “Current protocol and best practices say officers must persistently pursue efforts to neutralize a shooter when a shooting is underway. This is true even if only one officer is present. This is without question the right approach.”

“We need to understand why that protocol was not followed in Uvalde,” she continued. “I am still confident the F.B.I.’s focus on training to this standard was right, but I’m less confident in its execution.”

Schweit argued that based on recent statistics, the United States is not getting better at preventing school shootings, but she wondered if perhaps law enforcement is getting better at preventing them.

“But if the 78 minutes that the police in Uvalde waited before confronting the gunman at Robb Elementary are any indication, the answer is: We aren’t. Waiting so long, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday, ‘was the wrong decision. Period,”’ she wrote.

Law enforcement on the scene at Robb Elementary last Tuesday came under scrutiny for failing to engage with the shooter sooner. There were over a dozen police in the hallway of Robb Elementary while the shooter had locked himself into adjoining classrooms.

Children were still alive and locked in with the shooter at the time. After almost two hours, federal agents were able to access the room where the alleged shooter, Salvador Ramos, had locked himself in. He was fatally shot on the scene.

Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw said Friday that officers at the time did not think any more children were at risk, and the situation had transitioned away from an active shooter to a barricaded subject.

According to the Times, the Uvalde Police Department had been trained from Schweit’s FBI active shooting curriculum at least twice in the past two years, including one training session two months ago.

Schweit offered suggestions to bolster the implementation and practical application of the FBI program, including routine trainings to build confidence.

“Have officers walk through schools and talk with one another about how they would respond. Require officers to check all their gear before they begin a shift,” she said.

She also warned against training officers to “check a box,” and to avoid complacency when engaging in active shooter training.

“Law enforcement officers need to be mentally prepared before they arrive on the scene, so they can respond immediately.”

“Police department leaders need to tell their officers today what is expected of them and to understand that Americans demand it.”

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