The police department serving the Uvalde, Texas school district has been suspended, officials said Friday, more than four months after a mass shooting killed 19 students and two teachers. The decision comes amid several ongoing investigations into the department and its response to the killer May 24 rampage at Robb Elementary.
Anne Marie Espinoza, the executive director of communications and marketing for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD), wrote in a statement that the department was suspended due to “recent developments” that “revealed additional concerns about the department’s operations.”
Those officers who serve on the UCISD police force “will take on other roles within the district,” he added. Two department officials — Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller — have been placed on administrative leave. Mueller then decided to withdraw, according to Espinoza.
While the police department is suspended, the Texas Department of Public Safety will provide troopers to ensure the safety of students and faculty at Uvalde schools.
“We are confident that the safety of staff and students will not be compromised during this transition,” Espinoza said.
Several outside groups are still conducting audits of the UCISD police department, which has faced heavy criticism since the day of the shooting.
On July, a damning report cited “extremely poor decision-making” by law enforcement officers who waited more than an hour before confronting the 18-year-old gunman. Campus Police Chief Pete Arredondo he was fired in August.
And on Thursday, a ex-Texas soldier who was hired to serve UCISD after the shooting was fired. Crimson Elizondo was among more than 90 state troopers — and nearly 400 law enforcement officers overall — who rushed to Robb Elementary during the massacre but waited more than an hour to confront a gunman with an AR-15-style rifle who was shooting within a fourth grade class.
Espinoza said Tuesday that the district is working with the Texas Association of Chiefs of Police, which is conducting an audit and will “guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new police chief,” he said. The report is expected this month.
Meanwhile, the UCISD Police Department’s response to the shooting remains under investigation. “The results of the survey will inform future personnel decisions,” Espinoza said.
“The District remains committed to resolving issues with verifiable evidence,” he added.