Texas law enforcement agencies are joining together to support the Uvalde community following the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
Leading the volunteer effort is the Texas Police Chiefs Association, along with Sergeant Adrian Ruiz and Chief Homer Delgado of the Dilley Police Department, who is providing assistance to Uvalde police.
According to KSAT News, around 180 officers from 57 police departments across the state have volunteered to take over Uvalde officers’ patrol shifts.
Officer Mario Ruiz, who was born and raised in Uvalde, was personally affected by the tragedy and knew he had to do something.
“Got the notification that an active shooter situation was going on at my elementary school,” he told reporters. “So that hit close to home when I heard about it and immediately I knew where I wanted to be when I had the opportunity to be here.”
As a parent, Sergeant Adrian Ruiz said he sympathized with the families of children at the school. “My children were in that school as well, so I understand what it felt like for those families not knowing.”
Other agencies contributing resources to Uvalde are the Brazoria County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office and the Freeport Police Department.
Freeport Chief Ray Garivey said his department will help fill in Uvalde patrol shifts to relieve stressed Uvalde officers and will also participate in funeral escorts.
“I put out text messages … a group text message … and immediately it was like, ‘Tell me when … and what unit. Countless hugs, ‘thank yous,’ tears, we’re so glad y’all are here … to hear my officers call me and tell me the sadness they see in their faces,” Garivey said of his department’s reaction.
Garivey said that if the shoe were on the other foot, Uvalde police would do the same for their Texas brothers.
“I know that if I called them and asked them to help us, they wouldn’t hesitate to send the cavalry,” he said.
Brazoria County law enforcement are also showing their support for Uvalde in unique ways.
For instance, Brazoria County Sergeant Gregory Hernandez recently got “a Texas tattoo with a heart where the city is. And then these were the three call numbers I was assigned by the police department while I was here,” he told KHOU 11.
Hernandez hopes his efforts will comfort the Uvalde community and police officers.
“It’s been very emotional, very taxing for everybody. I mean, everybody is questioning everything from that day. Nobody has the answers right now,” he said.
The Precinct 3 Constable’s Office pledged to provide as many officers to assist Uvalde for as long as needed.
“It’s more than just a law enforcement thing. It’s a community thing. It’s a human thing to do,” Hernandez said.
The officers are being lodged at a local college, while the Uvalde County Emergency Management arranged for space at the airport to act as a temporary headquarters.
Bexar County and Medina County Emergency Management also chipped in by donating a trailer for dispatch to work in.
More officers are expected to arrive and replace those who have been volunteering for several days already.