The school district’s police department in Uvalde has been suspended, and the acting police chief placed on administrative leave, according to an announcement by Anne Marie Espinoza, spokesperson for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD).
“Recent developments have uncovered additional concerns with department operations,” Espinoza wrote in an Oct. 7 email.
“As a result of the recent developments, Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller have been placed on administrative leave, and the District has made the decision to suspend all activities of the Uvalde CISD Police Department for a period of time. Officers currently employed will fill other roles in the district.”
Espinoza said Mueller, the director of student services, has elected to retire.
Four other police officers and a security guard within the UCISD are affected by the suspension.
Pete Arredondo, the UCISD police chief at the time of the massacre, was fired by the board two months after the shooting. Hernandez was appointed to act as chief of police in the interim.
Espinoza said decisions about the school police department have been pending two investigations—one conducted by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and another by private investigator firm JPPI Investigations.
The decision to disband the school police force came more than four months after the May 24 massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement has been castigated for waiting 77 minutes before neutralizing the shooter.
A report from the Texas state legislature blamed “systemic failures” and poor leadership for the response that may have contributed to the death toll.
The UCISD was under fire again this week as it was discovered they’d hired as a school police officer a Texas state trooper who had been one of the first on scene at the shooting. The then-trooper, Crimson Elizondo, was shown on body camera footage waiting outside the school building, despite arriving within two minutes.
The school district fired Elizondo on Thursday after CNN revealed the connection.
“If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that,” Elizondo had told fellow officers after the shooting, according to the news outlet, which had obtained body camera audio.
In an email to the media on Oct. 6, Espinoza confirmed that Elizondo had been fired that day.
“Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is not consistent with the District’s expectations,” Espinoza wrote.
“We sincerely apologize to the victim’s families and the greater Uvalde community for the pain that this revelation has caused.”
UCISD had requested for the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide additional state troopers to schools and extra-curricular activities as the new school year started on Sept. 6.
Espinoza said UCISD expects to have a report from the two ongoing investigations, which will “guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new Chief of Police.”