Has Arredondo stopped cooperating with Texas's probe of the Uvalde response?

The rumor yesterday was that both the Uvalde PD and the School District PD had stopped cooperating. Not true, said the Texas Department of Public Safety in a statement afterward. Both departments are complying with requests for information.


But one particular officer has been less forthcoming.

“The chief of the Uvalde [school district] Police provided an initial interview but has not responded to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers that was made two days ago,” DPS claimed. The chief of the School District police is, of course, Pete Arredondo, the man who allegedly gave the order for officers at the scene to hang back while the gunman was holed up in a classroom with dying kids.

Not a good look from a man who’s been full of bad looks this week.

CNN happened to catch up with Arredondo outside his home in Uvalde today. He denied that he’s refusing to cooperate — sort of.

When asked about reports that he was not cooperating with Texas DPS, Arredondo told CNN, “I am in contact with DPS everyday.”

In a separate interview with CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz outside his office, Arredondo said he’s not going to release any information while funerals are ongoing.

“We’re going to be respectful to the family,” he said. “We’re going to do that eventually. Whenever this is done and the families quit grieving, then we’ll do that obviously.”

“In contact with DPS every day” could mean “They’re calling me every day and asking for an interview and every day I’m telling them no.”

It’s rare for a police union to publicly pressure officers instead of reflexively defending them of whatever they’re accused of, but last night the largest law enforcement union in Texas urged certain unnamed persons who have been less than totally compliant thus far to talk to DPS.


“At this time, The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, is advising our members to cooperate fully with all official governmental investigations into actions relating to the law enforcement response to the Uvalde mass shooting,” said a statement issued late Tuesday by the group…

CLEAT officials on Tuesday joined critics of the Uvalde law enforcement’s response, saying there has been “a great deal of false and misleading information” about what happened.

“Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement,” the statement said. “Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false. This false information has exacerbated ill-informed speculation which has, in turn, created a hotbed of unreliability when it comes to finding the truth.”

Arredondo might have a good reason not to cooperate. If it’s true that he’s been scapegoated by DPS for the police response, as one officer at the scene told the New York Post, then naturally he doesn’t trust DPS to conduct a fair investigation.

Or maybe he’s guilty of everything he’s been accused of and more, in which case he might be following the advice of every defense lawyer in America: Never talk to the police. Arredondo’s on the other side of the interrogation room table now, potentially facing civil or even criminal liability for his conduct. (Although it’s *really* unlikely.) He may have already retained counsel and been advised not to say another word to investigators.


Of course, exercising your individual right to remain silent when you’re under suspicion of malfeasance sits uncomfortably with your duty of accountability to your community as a public servant following a crisis. And as of this morning, Arredondo doesn’t hold just one office of public trust in Uvalde. He holds two.

He was elected to the city council months ago, long before the shooting. There’s no legal reason why he shouldn’t have been sworn in as a councilman on schedule; he hasn’t done anything that we know of at the moment that would disqualify him under the law. But given the collapse in public confidence around him, the responsible thing to do would have been to resign his council seat. If, against all odds, the DPS investigation clears him completely of responsibility for the police response, he can run again in the next election as a wronged man. But that’s unlikely, no? Remember that Arredondo was reportedly one of the first officers on the scene after the shooting began. Even if it turns out that he didn’t make the decision to hold police back, the question will remain why he didn’t go into the school and confront the gunman himself.

How would the city council operate with the trust of residents if he’s a member when he’s destined to forever bear some blame in the minds of locals for what happened? America’s developed a nasty habit over the last decade (or several decades) of politicians remaining in office during scandal and fighting on for the sake of their ambition, never mind how doing so degrades public confidence in the integrity of government. But being sworn in as a councilman on a day when kids are being laid to rest because you failed to intervene in their murder in a timely way would take the cake.


By the way, CNN’s reporters said Arredondo was still wearing a badge and gun when they met him this morning despite him having been sworn in to the city council last night. Doesn’t the council oversee the school district and its police force? How can Arredondo retain his job as school police chief now that he’s effectively his own supervisor?

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