Am I right that Pete Arredondo hasn’t shown his face in public since the shooting?
I’m not right, it turns out. He did address the press on the afternoon of the massacre to provide basic information about what happened.
But that was before the response of his police department became a national scandal, and before it was known that Arredondo himself allegedly gave the order to wait the gunman out instead of storming the classroom where he was holed up. Since then, local police have given at least two press conferences about the force’s performance, neither of which was conducted by Arredondo. And if I’m not mistaken he wasn’t on the dais with Greg Abbott and various other officials, including Ted Cruz, when Abbott was heckled by Beto O’Rourke last week.
Where is he?
I understand his fear at having to face furious parents. The obvious explanation for his absence this week is that he’s in hiding for his own protection, with Uvalde police reportedly requesting help from other forces around the state to keep their deputies safe. Even so, I can’t imagine how a community leader could go dark at a moment like this.
This guy was just elected to the Uvalde city council and was originally supposed to be sworn in today. His neighbors have placed faith in him repeatedly to wield significant civic power. How can he not hold a single briefing, remotely if necessary for his own safety, to explain why he allegedly wielded that power incompetently?
Inquiring minds want to know.
“Pete Arredondo is a coward. He didn’t do his job. He failed the children,” said neighbor Lydia Torres, 56…
Local cops have kept guard outside Arredondo’s house around the clock.
“I do not understand why the police from Uvalde, Texas, are guarding Pete Arredondo’s home,” Torres said. “He is hiding in his home, requesting the PD patrol the area and guard his home day and night. He should come out and speak up.”
Are we sure Arredondo is really the man responsible for the action for inaction at the school? His name has been mentioned so frequently this past week that I assumed he was the chief of the Uvalde police department, the top cop in town. He isn’t. He’s the chief of the Uvalde School District’s police force. The city of Uvalde has its own police force, the chief of which is Daniel Rodriguez. Presumably the SWAT team is part of that force, not the school district’s force.
Why wasn’t Rodriguez calling the shots during a crisis the magnitude of a school shooting? Surely the Uvalde PD can assert jurisdiction over schools in a situation as dire as they. They also surely have more firepower and armor than the school force does. Is it a matter of training? I.e. the school force is supposed to know how to handle a situation like a mass shooting with more expertise than the city PD?
That seems implausible. Schools aren’t the only place where mass shootings happen, after all. The Uvalde PD must have trained for them.
Maybe we should reserve judgment on Arredondo’s culpability until we know more. At least one cop at the scene told the New York Post that he’s not ultimately responsible. “It’s a lie that [Pete] Arrendondo told everyone to stand down,” he said. “It’s a lie. And we’re all getting death threats. It’s a f—g nightmare.” Someone who answered the door at Arredondo’s home also claims that he’s being scapegoated, telling the AP, “The truth will come out.”
I hope for his sake that it does and that he’s not to blame. Because locals are in a decidedly anti-cop mood:
“They stand there with their hardened looking faces and walk around town as if they are some kind of god,” says Uvalde resident Linda Leal. “Well, I guess you make pretty good actors.”…
“They are more worried about stopping people crossing over that damn border or writing you a ticket for a broken headlight than they are for protecting their community,” Garcia says. “We will go to the ends of the earth to track down a petty criminal but do as little as we can to protect our kids. Our priorities here in Texas are just messed up.”
One question Arredondo has to answer is why he didn’t go on in after the gunman himself. The Post claims he was one of the first officers on the scene after the shots began; typical police training calls for early responders to engage a mass shooter immediately and not wait for back-up in order to minimize the number of victims. When did Arredondo get there and what did he spend his time doing?
Another question is whether he had a police radio on him, as that would have informed him that kids were still alive inside the building and making phone calls to 911. The Texas Department of Public Safety is reportedly investigating the matter. I don’t understand how he could have failed to learn that fact, though, if he was present at the scene outside the school. Dozens of cops were around and most or all must have had radios; some of them inevitably must have heard that kids in the classroom with the shooter needed rescuing. Word would have gotten back to Arredondo quickly, no?
It’d be nice if he gave Uvalde residents the basic courtesy of filling them in.
I’ll leave you with this deep thought about “split second” decisions from John Cornyn, which was somehow posted days after it became clear that cops here dropped the ball. In lieu of an exit question, scroll through this NYT interactive feature that attempts to capture how interminably long the kids had to wait for the police to move in. The agonizing minutes it takes to get to the end succinctly conveys how much time the gunman had to do damage.
The second guessing and finger pointing among state and local law enforcement is destructive, distracting, and unfair. Complex scenarios require split second decisions. Easy to criticize with 20-20 hindsight https://t.co/ssq2FAInDX
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) May 28, 2022