Uwald School District suspends entire police force over shooting

The Uwald School District, Texas – which still faces heavy criticism for its police department’s failures during the May 24 elementary school massacre and since – announced Friday the suspension of the entire district police force.

The district said it is requesting additional Texas Department of Public Safety personnel to be stationed on campus and at extracurricular activities, adding: “We are confident that the safety of staff and students will not be compromised during this transition. “

It is unclear how long the school district police department will be closed.

Lieutenant Miguel Hernandez, who led the department’s response to the attack, and Ken Mueller, director of student services for the Uwald Integrated Independent School District, were placed on administrative leave. According to the school district, Mueller chose to retire.

“Officials currently employed will serve in other roles within the district,” the district said. That included four officers and a security guard, according to the district’s website.

Photo: A police officer walks out of Rob Elementary School in Uwald, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

A police officer walks out of Rob Elementary School in Uwald, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

Alison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Families of the victims, who held a 24/7 vigil outside the district headquarters, called for change, were pleased with Friday’s statement.

Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed at Robb Elementary School, praised the closure of the entire department.

“They don’t know how to hire people, they don’t know how to hire officers,” Rubio said. “They didn’t provide proper training.”

Friday’s news was “what we’ve been asking for — more than we’ve been asking for,” she said.

The district’s move comes a day after the firing of Crimson Elizondo, who was hired by the Uvalde school district despite an ongoing investigation into her conduct as a DPS soldier during the massacre that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

Elizondo was the first DPS member to enter the corridors of Robb Elementary School after the shooter entered. The officer did not bring her rifle or vest into the school, according to an internal review detailed to ABC News by DPS.

The soldier is one of seven DPS personnel whose conduct is currently being investigated by the agency’s inspector general due to a possible failure to follow standard procedures. However, the seven were suspended as Elizondo resigned from DPS to work for Uvalde School and she is no longer subject to any internal discipline or punishment. Her actions – if found to violate law or policy – will still be included in the DPS Inspector General’s final report.

Acting Police Chief Hernandez, a police officer, admitted to receiving a formal notice from DPS in July that Elizondo was under investigation.

The school district said in a statement Friday that a “decision” “about” the district police department had been pending the results of an investigation by the Texas Association of Chiefs of Police and the private investigation firm JPPI, but “recent developments have uncovered how the department operates.” other concerns.”

The results of the JPPI investigation “will inform future personnel decisions,” and the Texas Association of Police Chiefs’ review “will guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new police chief,” the statement said.

School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired in August.

ABC News’ Patrick Linehan and Olivia Osteen contributed to this report.

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