Texas DPS chief sidesteps calls for resignation

Texas Department of Public Safety Chief Steve McCraw said his agency did not fail and sidestepped calls for his resignation during a DPS Commission meeting Thursday.

Family members of the Uvalde victims, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez who represents Uvalde, and others, called for McCraw’s resignation citing his own words when he promised in September to resign should fault be found within his department for the failures of the Uvalde massacre.

McCraw said he continued to stand by that statement, but that no such failures have been found so far.

“DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community, plain and simple,” McCraw said. “(But) I can tell you there were things that we aren't proud about …”

Brett Cross, father of victim 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, pushed back on McCraw’s claims that there were no failures, saying several officers failed to act that day. He asked McCraw if those failures do not also indicate failures within the department.

“If you're a man of your word then you would retire,” Cross told McCraw. “Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like you're gonna do that because you keep talking in circles … Listen, you can get rotated all you want, (but) I lost my damn son. Your anger is not going to match mine.”

At least 91 DPS officers were in and outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24, some arriving within minutes. About 77 minutes passed before the gunman was killed. Several law enforcement agencies totaling nearly 400 officers responded to the tragedy.

Last week, Sgt. Juan Maldonado was the first DPS responding trooper to be fired in connection with the incident.

McCraw said the investigations into the actions of all the responding officers that day are still being investigated and that he believes a final Texas Rangers report will be given to the district attorney by the end of the year.

“You sir, have told lies,” Cross continued. “You're not in control of your officers, nor are you the leader this great state deserves at the helm of what was once known as one of the best law enforcement agencies.”

Families also called out DPS for lack of leadership and transparency, where family members and members of the media are a constant driving force in the release of new information.

The incident has been riddled with misinformation including when Gov. Greg Abbott stated that law enforcement acted quickly and bravely and because of their courage it was not as bad as it could have been. Abbott later said he was “livid” that he was misled..

DPS has also informed the public that a teacher left a rock to prop open the door that the shooter entered. That was later found to be false.

The public was also told a Uvalde CISD officer first engaged with the gunman outside the school. Later it was found that the gunman entered the school without resistance.

McCraw also immediately blamed former Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, as incident commander, for not acting more quickly. Arredondo has since been fired, but Uvalde families say there are more to blame. They are also seeking the firing of Capt. Joel Betancourt, who directed state troopers to remain outside the building and establish a perimeter, rather than immediately stop the shooter as training and protocol directs.

“Mr. McCraw, you have all the resources in the world,” said Jesse Rizo, the uncle of victim Jackie Cazares. “You have every single thing at your disposal and yet you come out, your staff comes out and (its) misinformation after misinformation.”

“When you arrived, your statements that were made in Uvalde … you basically lit a match and you set the town on fire,” Cazares said. “It's time for you sir to keep your word and offer your resignation and turn in your badge.”

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