Police have been vilified nationwide for the past two years for excessive use of force, so criticism of the Uvalde, Texas police force for waiting outside Robb Elementary School while Salvador Ramos was barricaded in a classroom where he had murdered 19 children.
“The commander on the ground at the time believed he had gone from being an active gunman to a barricaded subject,” Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a Friday news conference. “Based on the information we have, children in this classroom were obviously at risk and, in fact, it was still an active shooter. . . It was the wrong decision. Period.”
The parents’ anger is all the greater when the police prevented at least one mother from entering the school. Another mother went in alone and fled with her children.
It’s not clear whether an earlier charge against the shooter would have saved lives, but that’s what we expect from law enforcement. Indeed, a tactical team from Customs and Border Protection arrived, stormed the classroom, and killed Ramos. One of the agents was hit in the head by a bullet, meaning he was only half an inch from death.
No doubt police officers everywhere are wondering how they would behave in such circumstances. But the terror in Uvalde reminds us that it is precisely in these days of violence that we need the bravest to take these risks. And we need to give them the education and public support to do it.
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Appeared in the print edition on May 28, 2022.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-police-make-a-wrong-decision-uvalde-texas-police-steven-mccraw-salvador-ramos-11653690494 When Police Make a ‘Wrong Decision’