The U.S. Justice Department recently announced that they would investigate law enforcement’s response to the mass shooting at the school in Uvalde, Texas, after mounting criticism from the public.
DOJ Spokesman Anthony Coley stated that the investigation would be carried out in an objective and impartial manner after local authorities appeared to make contradictory statements about their role in the event.
Coley said the review would “provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and response that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events.”
The Justice Department probe hopes to answer questions regarding Uvalde police’s response time and inaccurate statements following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Officials say that Uvalde officers took more than an hour to neutralize the shooter, during which time the shooter killed 19 children and two teachers. Police say that officers engaged the shooter, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a few minutes after he entered the building and fired at him but were unable to stop him until a Border Patrol SWAT team arrived an hour later.
Another question looming over the incident was officers’ strange decision to fetch a key from the janitor’s officer to open the door of the classroom the shooter was in before killing him.
Generally, most reviews of an incident are conducted by responding local authorities. Examples of mass shootings where the DOJ stepped in include the 2015 San Bernadino shooting and the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that resulted in 49 deaths. Reviews of these shootings yielded reports that were up to 100 pages long.
The community has also expressed frustration and anger at the lack of urgency from police. According to authorities, the district police chief ordered his officers to wait in the school hallway. Officials say that police believed the suspect was initially barricaded inside classrooms and that the attack had ended.
Expert Jared Burguan, former police chief during the San Bernadino shooting, was critical of the police’s response times.
“Columbine changed everything,” Burguan said. “Officers are now trained to form up and enter buildings to confront shooters as quickly as possible to prevent them from killing more people. This has been drilled into this industry for years now.”
Other experts, like executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association Thor Eells, said it’s too early to pass blame on officers.
“I think we need to be a little patient on that and wait to ensure we understand what that mindset was,” Eells said. “It goes back to communication. What information did they have?”
The DOJ said the review was requested by Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.