Uvalde school district looking for interim police chief as Pete Arredondo awaits termination hearing, report says

Fernandez provided the update at a Rotary Club meeting last week, the paper reports. The board president also shared information of safety and security measures being implemented for the new school year.

“We had 16 applicants for UCISD police department,” Fernandez said, according to the paper. An interview committee is reviewing the candidates and assessing background checks, he reportedly said.

Fernandez also said 30 to 40 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will be assigned to Uvalde schools, the paper reported. He confirmed the school district has zeroed in on a property to replace Robb Elementary, which the district has said students will not return to, according to the paper.

Additionally, Fernandez said the district will approach fire drills differently, using the intercom system instead of sirens, the paper reported.

CNN has reached out to the school district and the Texas Department of Public Safety for confirmation and comment, and has not immediately heard back.

Arredondo was placed on unpaid leave following his highly-criticized handling of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in May, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed. Officials have said Arredondo was the on-scene commander during the shooting, but the chief has disputed this, saying he did not believe he was in charge.

The Uvalde superintendent recommended Arredondo be fired in the wake of the tragedy and amid growing anger from residents and families who demanded the chief be terminated from the position.

The school board has postponed Arredondo’s termination hearing twice because of requests from his attorney involving his right to due process. Mostly recently, the board pushed off the meeting due to a “scheduling conflict” which prevented the hearing from being held on August 4, the district said. A new hearing date was not set at the time.

Following the massacre, a report from a Texas House Investigative Committee identified widespread failures across responding law enforcement agencies during the shooting. The report also concluded Arredondo failed to assume his responsibility as the on-scene commander during the incident.
Responding officers arrived at the school within minutes of the shooter entering the building on May 24, but it took more than an hour for law enforcement to enter the adjoining classrooms and kill the gunman, according to a timeline from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety,” the report said, adding, “The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon.”

Arredondo has resisted officials’ statements identifying him as the leading officer, saying he “was responding as a police officer” and did not consider himself to be in charge.

However, video footage from body-worn cameras and security cameras shows officers on the scene deferring to Arredondo when they are unsure of their role during the shooting and also shows Arredondo giving orders and coordinating personnel, according to a CNN analysis of the footage.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

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