The great sin of what happened in Texas is that an 18-year-old with murder at heart went into a public school and shot 19 children and two teachers. The big shock was what the police did – their incompetence at the scene and their blatant lies afterwards. This aspect has shaken the American people.
Uvalde was not an “apparent law enforcement failure”. It is the biggest law enforcement scandal since George Floyd, making it one of the biggest in US history. Children, some already shot, some not, were locked in adjoining classrooms. Up to 19 police officers were gathered in the hall just outside the door. The Washington Post timeline shows the killer roaming the classrooms: “The attack lasted so long, witnesses said, that the gunman had time to taunt his victims before killing them, even singing songs to a student CNN described it as ‘I want -people-to-die-for-music.’ ”
Students inside called 911 and begged for help. The officers didn’t move for almost an hour.
Everyone in America knows the story. Figuring out exactly how and why it happened is the government’s urgent task. We cannot let it seep into the narrative void and settle for excuses. “People are still upset.” “Probes need time.” “We’re still burying the children.” We can’t entertain the idea that now, if bad trouble comes, you’re on your own . It’s too demoralizing.
We cannot allow the police to be unreliable in being physically braver than other people. An implicit agreement upon entering the profession is that you are physically brave. I don’t understand those who say with unbiased empathy, “I’m not sure I would have gone in.” It was your work go in. If you can’t make it, don’t join and get the badge, the gun and the pension.
The most focused and intense investigations must be conducted now, when they are fresh and raw – before the 19 cops and their commanders completely close ranks, if they haven’t already, and bring in the attorney.
These officials – they know everything that happened while nothing was done for an hour. Many of them would have had to override their own common sense to obey orders; most would have had to override a natural impulse for compassion. Many would now be angry or full of allegations or the need for explanation.
get them now
Shortly after the massacre ended, the police made strange allegations. They said the gunman was confronted by a school guard and gunfire was exchanged. Not true. They said the shooter was wearing a body armor. It wasn’t him. They said he was “barricaded” in the classroom. Is that the right word for a guy behind a single locked door? They said a teacher left open the door through which the shooter entered. Videotape showed otherwise. They didn’t admit what was happening outside the school as the parents begged the police to do something and at least tried to force their way through the cordon you could do something. The Washington Post had a witness who heard parents tell the police, “Do your damn job!” The police said they were. A man yelled, “Get your f- guns and do business!” These parents were being patronized and pushed around.
Even allowing for the fog of war, there’s something very different about the twists and untruths that happened in Uvalde.
The on-site commander, school district police chief Pete Arredondo, has not commented publicly on what went wrong. Why can’t he tell the public what happened? He didn’t take reporters’ questions until he was cornered by CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz on Wednesday. Mr. Arredondo dodged. Reports that he was a stiff investigator were false, he said; he’s in touch with them and he’ll have more to say, but not now. Then in a fatherly tone: “We will not publish anything. We have people in our community who are being buried. So we will be respectful.”
A better form of respect would have been to stop the guy who left her from mourning her dead children.
What I fear is a final report due out in six months or a year that will hit all the sleazy rhetorical notes – “a day of epic tragedy for our brothers and sisters in a small Texas town” – but makes absolutely no clear who was responsible for the lost hour.
All of this has made Governor Greg Abbott look particularly bad. He gave early police fiction the imprimatur of his office. In his first press conference after the massacre, he oddly insisted on their unabashed bravery: “They showed amazing bravery in running for gunfire.”
It was only after videos of the parents being pushed around by police hit social media that he did an about-face. In a later press conference, he spoke of free funerals and mental health resources. Eventually pressured into what was already becoming a police scandal, he said he had been “misled” by authorities and was “angry”. Glad he talked about his feelings. We don’t do that enough in America.
But who deceived him? Do you still have a job?
You wonder how his first briefing was.
Governor: “I need the truth: what happened?”
A burly Stetson police officer: “Within minutes we were storming the school like Iwo Jima – finishing off the enemy under a hail of fire, escorting the women and children to safety. Fixed bayonets. knives in our teeth. Trust me.”
Governor: “Understood, thanks!”
There’s only one way to deal with an error like this: knowing it won’t go away. Conduct a quick and brutal investigation, talk about it every day, keep the heat going. When people know you’re playing it straight, they’re generous. If they know you’re not – there’s an election in November and they’ll let you know.
I close with a thought running through my head. I think I’m seeing a broad and general decline in professionalism in America, a deterioration in our pride in concepts like rigor and excellence. January 6th arrives and law enforcement is weak and unprepared and the US Capitol falls to a small army of cranks. Afghanistan and the departure, which was truly a collapse, all due to the incompetence of the diplomatic and military leadership. It’s like everyone forgot the mission.
I’m not saying, “Oh, America was once so wonderful, and now it’s not.” I’m saying we’re losing old habits of discipline and pride in expertise—of incomparability. There was a kind of American sheen. When the world called us—in business, in the arts, in the military, in diplomacy, in science—they knew they were going to get it Help. The adults had arrived, with their deep competence.
America now feels more like people who did the accelerated three-month training course and got the security badge and went to work and formed an affinity group to advocate for change. A people who love to talk endlessly about sensitivity, but aren’t sensitive enough to keep the kids from bleeding to death on the other side of the door.
I fear that as a people we are not only becoming less and less conspicuous, but also less and less lovable.
My god, I’ve never seen a country that needs a hero like that.
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-uvalde-police-scandal-law-enforcement-cops-shooting-victims-officers-11654206409 The Uvalde Police Scandal – WSJ