Uvalde School Board Unanimously Votes to Terminate Police Chief Pete Arredondo
In a statement at the school board meeting, a young girl said in a message to law enforcement, “Turn in your badges and step down.”
The Uvalde School Board has cast their unanimous vote to fire the school district’s police chief, Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, over his response to the Robb Elementary school shooting on May 24 that killed 19 students and two teachers.
In a special meeting on Wednesday, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District board met to hear from parents and members of the community before going into a closed-door session to discuss the termination of Arredondo’s contract with the school district.
One young girl took to the podium before the closed door session to say, “I have messages for Pete Arredondo and all the law enforcements that were there that day. Turn in your badges and step down. You don’t deserve to wear one.”
Upon return from the close- door session the board announced that in an unanimous vote they decided to terminate Arredondo’s contract.
Former Chief Arredondo, who was not in attendance to hear his fate, expressed fear over his safety due to death threats he had been receiving, in a 17-page letter released by his attorney less than an hour before the meeting.
“Arredondo does not believe the planned district meeting is safe and is certainly not going to appear without exercising his state rights to be armed, unless the School District 6 discloses in writing its safety protocol to ensure Chief Arredondo’s life and the lives of those in attendance, including both the Board, its Superintendent, and the media” said the letter.
In an investigative report by the Texas House of Representatives on the Robb Elementary shooting released on July 17, it was stated that the Uvalde school district had penned that its police chief was to “assume command and control” in its active shooter plan.
“The chief of police was one of the first responders on the scene. But as events unfolded, he failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander. This was an essential duty he had assigned to himself in the plan mentioned above, yet it was not effectively performed by anyone,” the report said.
“The scene was chaotic, without any person obviously in charge or directing the law enforcement response,” the investigative committee wrote.
In the letter from Arredondo’s attorney, George Hyde, argued against the allegations that Arredondo is to blame for the response to the May 24 massacre, instead saying he was a brave officer.
“The district should exercise the same judgment and not make Chief Arredondo out to be a villain. On the contrary, Chief Arredondo was brave, led other officers in saving lives, and took all reasonable actions to prevent further injuries or loss of life, as the Active Shooter protocol demands,” said Hyde.
The letter also goes on to stress that there is no villain other than the shooter and that Arredondo informed the district of measures that needed to be taken in order to prevent an event like the May 24 shooting from happening.
“If the district provided ballistic shields capable of stopping a high velocity bullet, it could have been different,” the letter said.
“If the school district would have prioritized Chief Arredondo’s request over a year prior to the incident, for key-card locks, better fencing, better training, and more equipment, it could have been different.” Hyde said.
Arredondo and his attorney maintain that the chief should not be blamed and that none of his decisions or actions support the Board's findings of “good cause” to justify his termination. They describe the opposite in the letter, saying he did an “outstanding” job considering the situation.
Hyde concluded the letter saying “Chief Arredondo will not participate in his own illegal and unconstitutional public lynching and respectfully requests the Board immediately reinstate him, with all backpay and benefits and close the complaint as unfounded.”
For some families, Arredondo’s termination is seen as a start to help the healing process but that more law enforcement officers from that day need to face a similar fate as Arredondo.
Jesse Rizo, whose niece Jackie Cazares was one of the victims on May 24, was surprised to hear Arredondo requested to be reinstated, according to the Texas Tribune.
“The audacity,” said Rizo. “Who would come up with that? You didn’t have a car wreck into a stop sign. You had a loss of life. Twenty-one of them,” he told the Texas Tribune.
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