It Was Not a Time to Wait

 

My most recent piece over at PJ Media deals with the May 24 horrors of Uvalde, more specifically what the police did and did not do when alerted to the gunman’s presence at the school. When I first learned of the massacre and the timeline originally disseminated, I assumed the first reports were in error, as first reports often are. I reasoned it couldn’t possibly have taken police more than an hour to locate and neutralize the shooter. Then, as more details emerged, the timeline remained largely unchanged. I waited until Friday to write about it in the expectation some justification for the delay would be revealed. None was, nor has it been since.

I remain aghast that the gunman was not shot until 80 minutes had elapsed from the first 911 call, and though I have no knowledge of the incident beyond what has been published in news reports, I do have some insight into how police supervisors cope when they find themselves suddenly thrust into a crisis. Some can handle it, too many others cannot. It would appear that Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief, falls into the latter category.

I will grant that I have never faced a situation so fraught as that which occurred in Uvalde, but I have served many search warrants in my police career, some of which did not go as planned when the entry was impeded by a suspect’s resistance or an unforeseen obstacle. The lesson is this: When Plan A isn’t working, you must switch to Plan B, and then to C and D if necessary. As I say in the PJ Media piece, if you can’t go through the door, try the window. And if that doesn’t work, break down a wall or chop through the roof – anything but wait.

Even if it was the case, as Arredondo is reported to have believed, that the incident had shifted from an active shooter to a barricaded suspect, there is still no excuse for such a lengthy delay in entering that classroom. Most gunshot wounds are survivable if the victim receives prompt medical attention, a service denied to those 19 precious children and their two teachers.

Cops can have all the equipment and training the world can provide, but it’s all useless if they’re not properly led.

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Read your piece.  It was good.

    I don’t understand the issue with opening a door that opens towards you. That means the hinges are on your side of the door.  Take the pins off. Or cut the hinges off.  (If there is a noise issue have someone bang on a wall near the door to hide the noise of the cutting.) Tie a BFR to the door handle. Have one set of officers pull like they are trying to win the interdepartmental tug of war contest. Have a second set rush in when the door pops off.

    • #1
  2. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Excellent piece. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I am curious, though, why you think the second part of this statement is true: “When rapid, tactical decisions are called for, the highest-ranking officer at the scene may not be the most qualified to make them, and in most cases is guaranteed not to be.”

    • #2
  3. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    In the interest of full disclosure because I’m out of police work now when I first hit the streets the rule was a 50-caliber slug for the shotgun had to be issued by a supervisor in a shooting situation. I carried those slugs in my warbag in violation of that rule. I felt that if I needed that slug I wasn’t going to wait for a supervisor and I did not want to be in a debate situation with a supervisor when I needed some more range than buckshot would give me. I wasn’t the only officer that carried those slugs in their warbag.

    When my daughter was in the State of Oregon Police Academy, she was taught the hunter cell method of immediate entry. The scenario was entry through a specific door and find the shooter(s). She and three of her classmates found another door to make entry. The instructors could listen to their radios and the active shooter’s radio. The hunters were complimented after the exercise for finding a different door that surprised the shooter rather than the door specified in the exercise.

    You should encourage thinking outside the box decision making, especially for the officers that are first on the scene.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Read your piece. It was good.

    I don’t understand the issue with opening a door that opens towards you. That means the hinges are on your side of the door. Take the pins off. Or cut the hinges off. (If there is a noise issue have someone bang on a wall near the door to hide the noise of the cutting.) Tie a BFR to the door handle. Have one set of officers pull like they are trying to win the interdepartmental tug of war contest. Have a second set rush in when the door pops off.

    The guy was shooting through the wall. I don’t know any of the details of the layout or the construction, but getting hinge pins out can make a racket.

    • #4
  5. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Read your piece. It was good.

    I don’t understand the issue with opening a door that opens towards you. That means the hinges are on your side of the door. Take the pins off. Or cut the hinges off. (If there is a noise issue have someone bang on a wall near the door to hide the noise of the cutting.) Tie a BFR to the door handle. Have one set of officers pull like they are trying to win the interdepartmental tug of war contest. Have a second set rush in when the door pops off.

    In the time they took, someone could have chewed the hinges off.

    • #5
  6. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Sandy (View Comment):

    Excellent piece. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I am curious, though, why you think the second part of this statement is true: “When rapid, tactical decisions are called for, the highest-ranking officer at the scene may not be the most qualified to make them, and in most cases is guaranteed not to be.”

    I explain it here.  

    • #6
  7. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    You should encourage thinking outside the box decision making, especially for the officers that are first on the scene.

    I suspect Arredondo was so focused on the door he never considered any other way in.

    • #7
  8. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Sandy (View Comment):

    Excellent piece. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I am curious, though, why you think the second part of this statement is true: “When rapid, tactical decisions are called for, the highest-ranking officer at the scene may not be the most qualified to make them, and in most cases is guaranteed not to be.”

    I explain it here.

    Aha. Well, I guess I should not be surprised to find the usual array of types in a police department. 

    • #8
  9. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys?  They were police officers in Uvalde TX.  It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere.  80 miles from the next size town.  It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded.  What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes.  Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation 

    • #9
  10. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Sandy (View Comment):
    Aha. Well, I guess I should not be surprised to find the usual array of types in a police department. 

    They’re everywhere.

    • #10
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Some should be fired.

    • #11
  12. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    • #12
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before.  Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.  

    • #13
  14. AMD Texas Member
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    • #14
  15. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    No just truth.  Good cops in small towns tend to go where there is better money, training, excitement, etc.  Good cops in small towns tend to get ran off by local corrupt politics.  If they don’t then they become bad cops in small towns.  Bad cops in small towns tend to stick around since they like the power and corruption.  A good retiree cop can hang a bit in a small town but usually get tired of the corrupt small town politics and fully retire.

    • #15
  16. AMD Texas Member
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    No just truth. Good cops in small towns tend to go where there is better money, training, excitement, etc. Good cops in small towns tend to get ran off by local corrupt politics. If they don’t then they become bad cops in small towns. Bad cops in small towns tend to stick around since they like the power and corruption. A good retiree cop can hang a bit in a small town but usually get tired of the corrupt small town politics and fully retire.

    Not the least bit true. Sounds like projection.

    • #16
  17. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    No just truth. Good cops in small towns tend to go where there is better money, training, excitement, etc. Good cops in small towns tend to get ran off by local corrupt politics. If they don’t then they become bad cops in small towns. Bad cops in small towns tend to stick around since they like the power and corruption. A good retiree cop can hang a bit in a small town but usually get tired of the corrupt small town politics and fully retire.

    This assumes that the cop in question has no roots in an area whatsoever.   A good friend’s dad was a sheriff’s deputy and jail warden who stayed in the area because of his family.   He took pride in his marksmanship and in running the jail smoothly.    He’s retired now, but still works as a bailiff.   From his description, there’s a normal distribution of good, bad, and lazy cops in this small town, which is about the size of Uvalde.

    • #17
  18. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Percival (View Comment):
    The guy was shooting through the wall. I don’t know any of the details of the layout or the construction, but getting hinge pins out can make a racket.

    That is why I said to bang on the wall. Start banging on all four walls with sledges or axes and he would not know where the breech was coming from. Might spend bullets shooting at walls instead of schoolkids. They had enough officers there and enough time.

    • #18
  19. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    No just truth. Good cops in small towns tend to go where there is better money, training, excitement, etc. Good cops in small towns tend to get ran off by local corrupt politics. If they don’t then they become bad cops in small towns. Bad cops in small towns tend to stick around since they like the power and corruption. A good retiree cop can hang a bit in a small town but usually get tired of the corrupt small town politics and fully retire.

    Not the least bit true. Sounds like projection.

    Based on a lifetime of observation of local politics so it is a bit true.  Not even sure how projection applies in this situation as anything but a casual insult.

    • #19
  20. AMD Texas Member
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Seriously, what did you expect from these guys? They were police officers in Uvalde TX. It is a 7×7 mile 15,000 person small town in the middle of nowhere. 80 miles from the next size town. It is not that the best officers go to such or that what is there are well funded. What you get are retirees, problem officers hiding, corrupt officers or wannabes. Them hanging back until border patrol showed upright be the best answer to an already screwed up situation

    I won’t make a blanket statement about every cop in the town, but even good cops will fail if they’re poorly led, as appears to have been the case.

    I have lived in such small towns before. Good cops tend to move on to greener pastures.

    What are greener pastures in this case? I have also lived in small towns. Small towns in Texas. You get good cops and bad cops everywhere. You could make the argument that a bad cop in a small force makes for a disproportionate problem but you seem to make the argument that all cops in a small town are bad because if they weren’t they would have moved to a larger town. That’s a stupid argument.

    No just truth. Good cops in small towns tend to go where there is better money, training, excitement, etc. Good cops in small towns tend to get ran off by local corrupt politics. If they don’t then they become bad cops in small towns. Bad cops in small towns tend to stick around since they like the power and corruption. A good retiree cop can hang a bit in a small town but usually get tired of the corrupt small town politics and fully retire.

    Not the least bit true. Sounds like projection.

    Based on a lifetime of observation of local politics so it is a bit true. Not even sure how projection applies in this situation as anything but a casual insult.

    I based it on your statement about living in small towns where you obviously had issues with the local PD and decided that every small town PD was filled with corrupt officers or “wannabes”. My experience in small towns and their PD is diametrically opposed to yours. I imply from that some places have poor police departments, some have good ones, and others are likely mediocre. If that is insulting to you, so be it.

    • #20
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