Uvalde ISD will hire extra police officers for the fall semester, Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell said during a June press conference.
During the meeting, Harrell confirmed students and staff would not return to Robb Elementary School in the fall.
“There will be no school personnel on that campus as we move forward. As far as the future of that site, there is discussion about what that will look like as we move forward as a community,” Harrell said. “We will have some community input to help determine what that looks like.”
The meeting turned contentious at points, NBC 5 reported, but district officials would not answer questions about the investigation or personnel matters.
One reporter asked Harrell if he still trusted Pete Arredondo, the school district’s chief of police.
Harrell responded, “That’s personnel,” implying the question applied to personnel matters, and as such, he would not respond.
Arredondo was in charge of the law enforcement response to the May 24 shooting. Steven McCraw, the chief of the Texas Department of Public Safety, stated that Arredondo made the “wrong decision” by not ordering officers to act quickly to engage the 18-year-old gunman.
The shooter, Salvador Ramos, remained inside the school for around 80 minutes before he was killed by law enforcement, according to an estimated timeline published by AP. More than an hour passed between the first police officers breaching the building and Ramos’ death.
The superintendent’s announcement comes as other districts around the nation are having similar discussions. USA Today reported that the State of Virginia is discussing $27 million in additional funding for school police positions, while Kentucky just passed a state law mandating School Resource Officers (SROs) be posted in all schools.
Public officials have suggested that placing armed officers on campus would increase student safety.
“We know from past experiences that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Senator Ted Cruz told reporters shortly after the May 24 Uvalde shooting.
A 2021 JAMA Network Open study examined the presence of armed officers in correlation with the occurrence and severity of mass school shootings from 1980 to 2019. The data suggested “no association between having an armed officer and deterrence of violence in these cases” and no significant reduction in rates of injury.
Alternatively, another study from the non-profit RAND Corporation and the University of Albany found that having armed personnel on campus can deter some types of crime, but did not find significant evidence that SROs stopped school shootings or gun-related incidents given that if the event is stopped before it happens, it cannot be measured.
Still, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Police Department chimed in on the matter to assert that SROs have great value during gun-related incidents.
“The Cedar Rapids Police Department understands the critical factor of response time in limiting the dangers posed by active shooter situations,” a spokesperson wrote. “Our School Resource Officers are trained to respond to various emergency situations, including active threats. There is no question that precious minutes save lives in these situations.”
In an interview with The Dallas Express, State Representative Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) said, “We know the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. There is also value in putting a marked police car or marked security vehicle in front.”