EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Uvalde school district names new interim police chief

Nov 17, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: 11:12 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)

(CNN) — The public school district in Uvalde, Texas, has a police chief for the first time since firing the previous leader who was on duty during the deadly Robb Elementary School shooting.

Josh Gutierrez was named the interim executive director of safety and security and police chief for the Uvalde Consolidated School District during a Wednesday board meeting. The hiring of Gutierrez was approved unanimously, with one board member abstaining.

Gutierrez replaces Pete Arredondo, who was fired in August following criticism of his actions during the massacre on May 24, in which law enforcement waited more than an hour before entering the adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack.

Arredondo is seen on police body-worn cameras giving orders and receiving information during the response, but he has said he did not see himself as the incident commander.

A preliminary report by the Texas House investigative committee in July excoriated multiple law enforcement agencies for their lack of action that day, describing “an overall lackadaisical approach” by authorities.

“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives,” the report said. “Instead, we found systemic failures and egregious poor decision making.”

The Uvalde school district had suspended its police force in October following a CNN report that showed a newly hired officer was one of the state troopers under investigation for actions that day.

Recommending Gutierrez for the interim post is one of the first major decisions from interim Superintendent Gary Patterson since taking over for retiring Superintendent Hal Harrell.

“This is our first step (we are) taking to rebuild our school district police force,” Patterson said.

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Uvalde school district names new interim police chief