‘What police officer doesn’t have a radio on his belt?’: Experts react to Uvalde school police chief’s comments

UCISD Police Chief defends response to school massacre in interview with the Texas Tribune

Here's what we know

UVALDE, Texas – The chief of Uvalde’s school district police force is defending the response to the Robb Elementary massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Pete Arredondo, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief, talked with the Texas Tribune about the May 24 attack.

It is his first extended comment since the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

The comments follow days of statements from the Texas Department of Public Safety, lawmakers and others who have questioned the response at Robb Elementary.

Arredondo told the Tribune that he remains proud of his response.

UCISD Police Response on May 24

Arredondo told the Tribune he was one of the first to get to the school and that he thought of himself as a first responder, not the incident commander. He also reported he left his police and campus radios outside, telling the Tribune he didn’t want to be encumbered by them during an active shooter situation.

KPRC 2 Investigates interviewed two retired Houston Police Department officers who share a combined experience of nearly 40 years.

Joseph Fenwick, who has taught and participated in hundreds of hours of active shooter classes, says not having a radio prevents crucial details from being shared.

“It’s just ridiculous. What police officer doesn’t have a radio on his belt,” said Fenwick.

Tom Nixon, who was with HPD for 11 years and is now an attorney, also questions Arredondo’s statements to the Tribune.

“It doesn’t make sense, the story being told,” said Nixon. “Of course, none of this has made sense.”

Click on the dots below for more details on what happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The Texas Department of Safety is the source of the information below.

Fenwick says active shooter training teaches officers something known as LOCAN: Location, condition, action, and needs.

He says without a radio, crucial details like those aren’t relayed quickly.

Fenwick and Nixon also question Arredondo’s comments stating he didn’t believe he was incident commander, but rather among the first responders. Fenwick and Nixon say protocol mandated he take charge that day because was one of the first in the school and was the ranking officer.

“It just seems like everybody stopped everything. Instead of fighting they backed off and let this active shooter take over the classroom,” said Nixon.

Lawmakers were equally skeptical of Arredondo’s comments to the Tribune.

“What I saw was somebody who effectively abandoned the chief role, and then because of that, the situation, which was already horrific and chaotic, lasted longer than it should have,” said State Sen. Paul Bettencourt/(R) Dist. 7.

Chief Arredondo’s Training Background

KPRC 2 Investigates reviewed state records detailing Arredondo’s training history and found he had dozens of hours of active shooter training and managing critical incidents in the last three years.

The most recent course happened on December 17, 2021 and was state-mandated active shooter training.

Records show Arredondo also had 24-course hours in Managing Critical Incidents for Higher Education at the TEEX Central Texas Police Academy in 2019.

The course description shows officers are trained on topics such as crisis communication and managing the response. The course is specialized to higher education institutions.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”