Justice Department names 9 to help review Uvalde shooting – Boston News, Weather, Sports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has named a team of nine people, including an FBI official and former police chiefs, to help review the law enforcement response Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting 19 children and two teachers died.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the team Wednesday at a meeting at his Washington office. The Critical Incident Review is managed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The review will include an examination of police policy, training and communications, and the use of officers and tactics, the Justice Department said. It is also looking into who was in charge of the incident and how police prepared for possible incidents involving active gunmen.

The team gathered around a conference table in Garland’s office for their first meeting on Wednesday, with some of the members virtually featured on a large television screen.

Garland said the review was comprehensive, transparent and independent.

“We will evaluate what happened that day,” he said. “We will visit the school on site, we will conduct interviews with a variety of stakeholders, witnesses, families, law enforcement, government officials, school officials and we will review the resources that were made available in the aftermath.”

The findings and recommendations will be detailed in a report that will be made public, he said.

Garland said the team has already begun its work, although the department has not provided specific information on whether members of the team have been there Uvalde, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants.

The Justice Department said it would prepare the report as soon as possible.

The review was requested by the mayor of Uvalde. Such verification is fairly rare, and most of the follow-up reports that come after a mass shooting are generally compiled by local law enforcement or outside groups. The Justice Department conducted similar reviews after a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people and the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history went 49 dead and 53 injured in 2016.

The Justice Department said the nine officers on the team in the Uvalde case were selected for their expertise in law enforcement, emergency management, active shooter response, school security and other areas. The team consists of the former chief of the Sacramento, California Police Department, a deputy chief who worked at Virginia Tech, the Orange County, Florida sheriff, an FBI unit chief, and other officials.

Two weeks ago, 19 students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School. Law enforcement and state officials have struggled to provide a precise timeline and details, and have stopped releasing information about the police response.

The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, spent about 80 minutes at Robb Elementary School, and more than an hour passed after officers first followed him into the building before he was killed, according to an official timetable. Meanwhile, parents outside asked police to rush in, and panicked children called 911 from inside.

The review comes as state officials have already investigated the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said School District Police Chief who served as the on-site commander — and who officials said made the decision not to breach a classroom sooner because he believed it had gone from an active shooting to a hostage situation — had stopped communicating with state investigators speak.

But the boss, Pete Arredondo, later told CNN that he speaks regularly with investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas officials have stopped answering questions about the response and have not said if Arredondo is now working with them.

When asked what the Justice Department would do if someone refused to cooperate with the federal review, Garland said justice officials “expected voluntary cooperation from everyone at every level, and we were promised that cooperation.”

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin commended Garland for “acting quickly” at the start of the review and pledged that the city would fully cooperate.

“This assessment and the findings are of the utmost importance to the victims and their families, the community of Uvalde and the country,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “The City will cooperate fully with the Department of Justice and will assist in coordinating with other local entities as needed to complete this review.”

The team includes: Rick Braziel, former Sacramento Police Chief; Gene Deisinger, Vice President of Virginia Tech; Frank Fernandez, who served as Director of Public Safety in Coral Gables, Florida; Albert Guarnieri, a department head at the FBI; Mark Lomax, who served as a major with the Pennsylvania State Police; Laura McElroy, CEO of McElroy Media Group; John Mina, the sheriff in Orange County, Florida; April Naturale, associate vice president at Vibrant Emotional Health; and Kristen Ziman, the former Aurora, Illinois police chief.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/justice-dept-names-9-to-aid-in-review-of-uvalde-shooting/ Justice Department names 9 to help review Uvalde shooting – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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