… remember this.

Half a decade ago at the Parkland school massacre, Deputy Scot Peterson, the assigned school resource officer, failed to “ride to the sound of the guns.” Many kids were killed. They called Peterson “the coward of Broward” and  \years later, tried him for child endangerment. He was acquitted, largely because his defense lawyers brought in eyewitnesses who were present at the murder scene and said they couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from, either.

In Uvalde, they knew where the shots were coming from and where the mass murderer was. The now-accused chief knew it too, and held his men back, even disarming and removing from the scene one officer who was about to make “positive entry” on his own.

When police are present there is in fact an absolute duty, not to commit hopeless self-sacrifice, but to make a good faith effort to fix the life-threatening problem. 

This is going to be an interesting case to follow.

48 COMMENTS

  1. There is the concept of disobeying an unlawful order. When Germany invaded France in 1940, Hitler ordered Rommel to round up the Jews and shoot them. Rommel disobeyed. The job of the Border Patrol is to keep illegal aliens from crossing the border. Joe Biden issued an unlawful order to stand down, and the Border Patrol is obeying that unlawful order. Since the federal government is not doing its job, state governors should close their own borders. Instead, they, other than Abbott in Texas, obey Joe Biden’s unlawful order.

    If an officer had disobeyed his superior in Uvalde, he would have been supported by everyone, other than his superior officer. An officer who disobeyed in Uvalde would have been a hero, whether he lived or died.

    Seems like a lot of government servants are using the Nuremberg defense, “I was just following orders.”

    I realize this is easy for me to type sitting here in comfort and no stress, while my job is not in jeopardy.

    • If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, I expect you to make those considerations before you find yourself in such a dilemma. When lives can be presumed to be lost by the minute, it is not a time to sit back and reflect on your career choice.

  2. Officers are being charged for failure to stop other officers from unlawfully harming suspects, so it makes sense that the former chief was charged in this case. When will politicians be charged for enacting laws that prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to effectively defend themselves against criminals? Don’t hold your breath.

  3. The chief claims he believed it had become a barricaded suspect situation, but it seems like this was magical, hopeful thinking, and entirely contrary to the training the dept had received just a few months before. It sure feels like he was latching onto any excuse he could find to not have to go in.

    • My recollection of the Uvalde sordid tale s that the gunfire continued, though sporadically, for a LONG time after the perp barricaded himself into that large double room with his vicims. So no, , I ain’t in the market for a “barricaded suspect situation”.

    • IMHO regardless of whether shots are still being fired, if there are wounded people on the floor bleeding out it can’t be a “barricaded suspect we wait and negotiate” situation. That’s a case of “get in, get rid of the threat, and get the medics.” In Uvalde I strongly suspect had quicker treatment been given there would have been more survivors.

  4. Warren v. D.C. (1981): The police have no duty to protect an individual.

    Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005): The police have no duty to enforce restraining orders.

    By repeated Supreme Court precedent (there are more cases than that), the authorities have no duty to protect you.

    Students who sued Scot Peterson had their cases dismissed, as well.

    I don’t think any convictions of cops in the Uvalde case will survive appeal. But that’s in state court, where politics and optics play a part, so we shall see.

    • My thoughts and research, as well.

      I certainly appreciate that LEOs have taken an oath to “protect and serve”/

      Yet, more than a dozen courts cases tell we citizens that LEOs don’t actually have to do so.

    • I’m actually OK with the idea that police officers do not have to protect me. However, if that is the case (and it is), then LET ME PROTECT MYSELF!

      • The courts have decided thusly because it is simply impossible to protect everyone. You are your own first responder, assuming the politicians don’t interfere.

  5. IIRC, the original case law on ” no duty to protect” was that the police don’t have a duty to protect any particular individual of the general public, unless there’s a “special relationship”-whatever that meant. That case was deep in the last century and I’ve no clue today of the circumstances.

    That said, in the Uvalde case, they did have a duty to protect. As you note, it will be interesting. Hope is generally not an effective tactic.

    • Women in DC had hoe invaders. One woman was upstairs and called the police while her roommates were being sexually assaulted.

      Allegedly the officers drove by/went to the door and not noting any distress , they left.

      I can’t remember if the 3rd woman called again before being discovered or while being discovered, but she was also assaulted.

      The women sued and we got the “no duty to protect a specific individual unless there was a specific arrangement made.

      Sorry, Mas, you got this one wrong.

  6. It is absolutely an unimaginable concept to stand by while kids are begging for help and being murdered! If a cop had tried to disarm me in that situation, one of us would be grievously injured or dead. Stand down my a**! I served two tours in the RVN and no one is going to harm children if I have even the slightest chance to stop it.

    Protect and serve is a joke! We know who they protect and serve, and it isn’t us! Uvalde was indisputable proof of that. I will never again trust a LEO.

    • Mr Winters, there are still plenty of brave and honorable officers out there you can count on when needed in an situation. My son is a veteran of 3 tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and 8 years as a Police Officer just outside Dallas. He and his wife are expecting their first daughter in October and I can tell you no one will be hurting any children in his presence even if it cost his life. There are plenty of other middle aged officers out there you can trust your life to, vets of the war on terror who are already battle hardened and trustworthy. I’m sure there are younger guys with plenty of guts too, just not the experience of being under fire, who would still do the job regardless of personal threat. Please don’t write them all off because of a few cowards.

    • Not too long ago, there was a robbery at a Kum N’ Go about two miles from where I live that erupted into a full-on gun battle. An officer died pulling the innocent out of the line of fire. Whenever people call LEOs cowards, or characterize them as nothing but legally armed gangs, I think of that cop and the sacrifice he made living up to the credo of “To Protect and to Serve.”

    • Thank you for your service (that is not just something to write, I mean that). My son is an SFC, a combat engineer and currently deployed, where I will not publicize, but I can tell you it’s not where I want him to be right now. When he gets out of the service, he will likely become a police officer. Since he is not a police officer yet, you have not dishonored him with your comments in your second paragraph. But you have dishonored tens of thousands of current, good police officers and many (too many) dead police officers who sacrificed their lives protecting others. Shame on you.

      • Sometimes a man needs a broad brush to cover all the ugly things he sees around him every day. I know there are still good LEOs out there, I just wish to god they had been in Uvalde that terrible day.

        I am sorry if I offended anyone or disparaged the good LEOs still serving. The cowards know who they are.

        I am sorry if I offended anyone or disparaged the good LEOs still serving. The cowards know who they are and they are the ones I was talking about.

        I’m old and probably more than a bit cynical, but I just thank God my time here has about run its course. I loathe what is happening to the country and flag I gave four years of my youth to serve.

  7. The police don’t have a duty to protect. So many of us jump through hoops to get a concealed carry permit. And then a few states create “sensitive areas” where we can not carry in these areas and we then depend upon law enforcement to protect us in those areas. ????

    Additionally, if we travel from one state to another, in some cases, our concealed carry permits are not recognized and we are back to depending on law enforcement to protect us. ????

    It seems that there is something wrong here. But don’t worry, our elected officials have security details to be safe from us and others.

    Nothing see here, move along.

    This is an election year, we the people have the power of the vote to change our elected officials, to change this. Vote wisely.

    • I think I remember years ago when the anti-Americans used to tell us we don’t need guns for protection, because we have the police and military to protect. Dingbats don’t learn from history, or even current events, or even their own failed policies. There is no sense in having a discussion with them. They don’t learn.

  8. I was a Day Watch Patrol Lt. in SE Texas after Columbine. I and my Sergeants had an unofficial meeting and we all agreed that if we heard of an active shooter at any of our schools (nine total in the city) that we absolutely WERE NOT going to wait on higher ups to start a planning session. We were going to immediately head toward the shooter(s) and stop them with any and all manpower available. No SWAT prep, no establishing a command post, no encirclement…just go, find and stop. I and one of my sergeants are VN vets. A patrol officer was a vet of Granada and another of Desert Storm. It’s our town, our school, our kids and our responsibility. No one else…ours.

    • I’m trying to think of examples where mass shooters really harmed the cops who responded. Maybe there was one in DC, where I think the bad guy shot 5 cops. Starkweather surrendered without fighting, and I think the Columbine killers committed suicide. Even the two men who attacked and killed Charles Whitman were unhurt.

      Statistically, responding to mass shooters might not be as dangerous as it seems. The first man through the door will probably get shot, then his buddies will get the bad guy. Maybe the first guy through the door should be a robot, but that will probably take too long.

      Remember when Seal Team Six killed Bin Laden? Not one American was harmed. THAT WAS A MIRACLE.

    • Thank you for your continued service; your attitude, your beliefs, and your dedication. I believe there are many more of you among us than not, the good people of your town may appreciate knowing how you feel, I know I would.
      Be well, be safe, and God bless.

  9. Oh…and Mr. Winters, there are thousands of good officers in this nation who tell their families goodbye every shift knowing full well that they might not come home. They are prepared to die for other people…total strangers. Unfortunately, what you’ve seen lately are examples of hiring practices that those of us in the profession in the 80s and 90s knew would come back to haunt us someday. What happened in Uvalde will stain Texas law enforcement for decades to come.

    • Regarding “Unfortunately, what you’ve seen lately are examples of hiring practices that those of us in the profession in the 80s and 90s knew would come back to haunt us someday.”:
      Yep. I applied to LAPD in 1990. I had a spotless record, easily passed the written exam and on my oral exam I achieved a very high score (it’s been awhile, but I think it was a 97 where anything above 80 placed one in the eligible ranks and 99 was the highest possible score). Or so I thought…
      I was never contacted to move on to the next step in the process. I later found out from a seasoned LAPD officer that at the time I applied, that to fulfill the goal of creating more diversity in the force, any female applicant or minority applicant of either sex (we had only two back then) was hired if they passed the written test and scored the minimum 80 points on the oral exam. But white males were only accepted if they achieved a score of “99+”. I asked him what the plus designation meant and he told me that was given for those with past military experience, something I did not have. My efforts to join the Los Angeles Police Department were a waste of my time.

  10. Don’t forget, there were about 50 Texas Highway Patrol troopers there, with at least one or two Sergants, a Lieutenant, a Captain and, according to word of mouth, a Regional Director (appointed by and answering ONLY by the DPS Director himself) that was there who outranked EVERY other DPS officer, then left the scene while it was ongoing, only to come back later after it was over. Same coward that got on TV afterward and said “The American people have to understand, those officers could have gotten shot.” No duh, asshat… that’s a possiblity EVERY DAY, it’s hardly a reason for huddling together behind ballistic shields, Level IV vests, ballistic helmets like a small army, cowering while a teenager with an AR he didn’t even really know how to use systematically executed 19 children in two adjoing classrooms over 77 minutes.

    Many DPS officers deserve to be fired, then tried and jailed for decades. Every one there that did nothing should have their TCOLE licenses pulled forever. The allowed children to be cruelly slaughtered, along with two teachers, while they huddled together to protect themselves…. as a former LEO, a moral adult, a grandfather and a native Texan, these spinelss, simpering bastards make me want to vomit.

    • Sir, when you finally decide how you really feel, please let us know. I think you are holding back some thoughts. 🙂

  11. As an elementary school teacher, now retired, a longtime CCW holder and a graduate of MAG40, I was discouraged by the police response in both Texas and Florida. For years I’ve heard that teachers shouldn’t be armed because “you don’t have sufficient training”, “your job is to teach”, “more guns in schools will make things worse”, etc. No, when I was working, I didn’t have as much training as LEO’s, but I promise you that I would have protected my students with my life if need be, even though my state and school district disarmed me.

    • There are lots of teachers and staff that did exactly that sometimes at the cost of their lives. There were the custodians who made multiple trips into Columbine to get students out, more than one teacher who died shielding students, the Assistant Principal who walked up and snatched the gun from a shooter (he was 4 hours from retirement) and many others. There is not a courage problem but the heroes are denied the proper tools.

  12. How harshly we judge others.
    Should we begin imprisoning, or otherwise punishing officers for behaviors we find cowardly (short of malice), we will soon find we have no more honest officers. Even if I myself have experienced a similar incident, I cannot speak to an event I did not witness. Weirdos abound and we will have defense failures. I’m pretty sure I would handled Uvalde differently but can’t even prove that to myself because I wasn’t there. I’m not saying some folks shouldn’t be removed from current positions but an overly heavy handed response will not undo death and injury but only further divide; including driving away potential future officers. Additionally, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a liable suite, you know that even if you win, you still lost.

  13. Headline: “Former Uvalde school police chief, officer indicted in 1st-ever criminal charges over failed response to 2022 mass shooting”

    Note the “1st-ever” in the headline, above.

    I can see why Texas is bringing these charges. This incident was a total FUBAR. The outcome was tragic. Many people are upset over the failures in this incident. So, someone needs to pay. Someone needs to be tossed off the sled to feed the wolves.

    Honestly, I don’t expect this case to truly “bear fruit” in a criminal sense. As pointed out above, the police only have a general duty to the public not a duty to any individual. The defense team will seek to “pass the buck” for the failures to anyone and everyone else. If everyone is at fault, then no one is at fault. It will be hard to get convictions and to make them stick.

    However, that does not really matter. That is not the purpose here. If convictions are forthcoming, then that will just be “frosting on the cake”. The intent here is to use the process to inflict the punishment. As the lawfare efforts have shown, “The Process is the Punishment”.

    The lives of the accused will be ruined (win, lose or draw) by these criminal charges. Even if acquitted in the end, the accused will have been punished and a message will have been sent to other law-enforcement personnel.

    The message? Don’t screw up like these guys. If you do, you WILL PAY a price for it.

    The police are really in a “catch-22” situation. If they act and it turns out badly, then they will be accused of excessive force and/or racism. If they sit on their hands (like in this case) and it turns out badly, they will still be charged and put into the legal torture chamber.

    The only way to win is to always execute perfect actions and to always manage to get things to turn out good. Bad stuff happening is always their fault. The police are scripted to be the fall guys for whenever things go wrong. They are the “little fish”, who will always fried, so as to keep the “big fish”, in Government, out of the fire.

    Why anyone would want to work in law enforcement, in today’s environment, is beyond my comprehension.

    • You exaggerate, but I’m glad if it comes back to bite you if you either cower when called upon or abuse the powers you’ve been entrusted with. It’s not for everyone, and not in a country club sense.

    • John Mohan, RN,

      If I remember correctly, the police actually did prevent one armed parent from entering the building. For all I know, they may have prevented more than one parent from trying to end the slaughter. So, they didn’t stop the bad guy, and they prevented others from stopping him. The Chief protected the criminal from harm.

      Our modern age is known for having the most advanced technology, but our ethics are backward.

  14. In the aftermath of Columbine when the active shooter protocol was first being implemented, I happened to have a conversation about it with the training director for a large police department. They had had incidents on both sides of the implementation. The first one was a debacle, after the policy change they had a successful outcome (once they got there). Her assessment was “Yep, it is more dangerous but we are the police.”

  15. Having read through the replies above, I’d like to raise a point or two after noting that doing nothing is often a horribly bad decision. First off, even in the event of a successful intervention, there’s going to be a storm of criticism. While there might be, indeed it’s hard for there not to be, some lessons learned for the next time, the end justified the means. That time.

    OTOH, you have the botched interventions, like that of the ’72 Olympics in Munich. I’ve no clue as to the results of the fact finding after that fiasco. But being far, far distant from the event, the negative reaction was still massive. No clue as to the fall out from the event. But, do we really want to raise the prospect of criminal charges if the event doesn’t have a Hollywood ending? Most people can’t grasp the reality of a largely no win situation where you do the best you can and accept whatever the result.

    Yes, failure to act should have consequences, but let’s be careful about the precedent, real or imagined, established.

  16. If anyone wants to see what can happen after an essentially textbook tactical intervention, get a copy of After the Echo by Russ Clagett, Varro Press.

  17. The charges are Texas criminal child endangerment. Inexplicable affirmative acts going against training and policies which unnecessary put children in danger. So, whatever the caselaw noted here in the comments (about police having no generalized duty to aid citizens) — not controlling. Unless the former cops are found not to be within the scope of the endangerment statute, there will be convictions. For sure, an “expert” Ranger or two will testify for the State of Texas and explain what he/she was trained to do and would have done.

  18. I don’t trust law enforcement.
    If their lips are moving they are lying to get you to talk yourself into incarceration. I also do not trust them to keep me safe.
    Sadly law enforcement officers violate people’s rights and we as citizens have little recourse. The courts are pretty much a joke and we cannot defend our rights, or life, from the tyrants with a badge in an appropriate manner. Yet if I see a scumbag with a badge in trouble I’ll likely help them. I’ve used physical force, not lethal force, to help more than one police officer. I’m prepared to use lethal force if I’m forced to.
    I avoid law enforcement because nothing good comes from interaction with them. Their job is to generate revenue for the system and incarcerate as many as they can. “If you hook hook up two misdemeanors or one felon this shift you win a free toaster oven.”

  19. No, Mas.
    I’m generalizing and I realize that.
    However if you’re acting in your official capacity I’m not going to say much. Sitting and talking over a beer is a different story.
    There is good and bad in every profession. The problem is you don’t know if you’re dealing with a good one or a bad one in the heat of the moment so it’s best to say little and let the lawyers work it out in my opinion.
    Last summer I had to spray an assailant with bear spray to cease his assault on me. I initially didn’t get a good cop. I did outline the situation and gave them the basics of the case but only because there were witnesses who verified my story was I not put in handcuffs. That and an older officer who knew the assailant and his propensity for violence is what kept me out of jail that night.
    So, I will treat all law enforcement as suspect until proven otherwise.

  20. Should the teacher who left open the door to the school be charged with a crime?

    Should the Uvalde police lieutenant who was in command of the Uvalde PD that day be charged with a crime?

    I recall that a highway patrol sergeant was fired for not acting, but I may be wrong.

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