‘Stop the shooting’ is primary job for police, says Unified Police sergeant

May 31, 2022, 4:15 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:20 am
The public school district in Uvalde, Texas, has a police chief for the first time since firing the...
A family pays their respects next to crosses bearing the names of Tuesday's shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

SALT LAKE CITY — 78 minutes is how long it took police in Uvalde, Texas, to kill the gunman at Robb Elementary School, but not before he killed 19 children and their two teachers on May 24.

During the shooting, as many as 19 law enforcement officers were reported as waiting in the hallways of the school.

A Texas Public Safety Department colonel admitted Friday that waiting in a school hallway while trapped students made 911 calls was the “wrong decision” by the commanding officer at the scene. It’s not clear how many lives the mistake may have cost, as reported by CNN.

Dave Noriega wanted to know what Utah’s law enforcement agencies’ policies are for stopping an active shooter. Dave said one police department responded to the question by saying, “We don’t reveal our tactics.” 

As a parent, Dave said, he wants to know what police are going to do in that situation.

What is the police policy for the Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake?

Sgt. Melody Cutler of the UPD joined Dave and Debbie Dujanovic to talk about what her department’s active shooter policy is.

“When we receive these calls, we’re going to respond to that scene. We kind of leave it up to that first officer that gets there if they want to go in by themselves,” Cutler said. “They can go in by themselves, that’s their decision or they can wait for a couple more people to get in. But as soon as they get like, maybe two, three people, we are going to go in. Go take care of the problem. Primarily, stop the shooting. That is the number one thing we have to do.”

Cutler added that once the gunman is neutralized, a rescue mission partnering with the Unified Fire Authority can begin.

“Are you going to just send police officers — even patrol officers who happened to be patrolling the area — in to mitigate the shooting to make sure that they take care of the active shooter?” Debbie asked. “That puts a lot on one cop.”

“It does, but you know, we have officers that will right up tell you, they’re not waiting, they’re going in,” Cutler said.

Does a barricaded gunman change the go-now policy?

“In this situation [in Uvalde, Texas], it seems like there was an officer that made the determination that this is now a barricaded situation, but it’s barricaded with kids still inside. Can police, other officers that maybe disagree with that assessment, can they ignore that command?” Dave asked.

“These situations are incredibly dynamic, and all of them are different,” Cutler said. “So we have to kind of go with the flow, if you will. So, when we say barricade, in our world that means there’s no other people with him. He’s alone.”

Related: Former Saratoga Springs police officer in custody after allegedly making threats


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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‘Stop the shooting’ is primary job for police, says Unified Police sergeant