Texas DPS Wants Uvalde Bodycam Footage Buried Because It Might Let School Shooters Know Cops Won’t Stop Them From Killing Children
from the big-warm-cup-of-go-fuck-yourself dept
The Uvalde Police Department — which currently avails itself of 40% of the town’s budget — did nearly nothing to stop an extremely horrific school shooting that resulted in 19 dead children, two dead teachers, and 17 others being wounded.
While Robb Elementary turned into a bloodbath, Uvalde officers retreated after a couple of flesh wounds, apparently unwilling to sacrifice their lives for children. They spent nearly an hour doing nothing than listening to nearby gunshots and ignoring 911 calls placed by students brave enough to risk their lives to save their classmates. What they did do is restrain parents who attempted to rescue their kids — something that involved pepper spray and Tasers. Meanwhile, off-duty Uvalde police officers allegedly entered the building to remove their own children from Robb Elementary.
It was a Border Patrol Tactical Team that finally ended the violence. And it seemingly had nothing to do with the Uvalde PD’s response to a rapidly changing, extremely violent situation. According to reports that followed multiple bullshit statements by the Uvalde PD and other Texas law enforcement agencies, a Border Patrol officer received a text from his wife about the shooting. This off-duty federal officer evacuated several students (as well as his own daughter and acted as a liaison with the BP tactical unit that finally ended the killing).
Having failed to act as the fearless heroes law enforcement tends to demand everyone view them as, the Uvalde PD — along with other law enforcement officials — are now trying to bury the inconvenient truths that have disrupted the preferred narrative.
The shooting has provoked a lot of public records request activity. So far, none of the involved law enforcement entities have been willing to release the least biased source of information about the school shooting: body camera footage.
Reports are often just history being rewritten by the presumptive winners: government officials. This remains true even if cops appear to have taken a loss. Internal investigations are dragged out for months, if not years, to ensure public outrage is nearly nonexistent when the results are announced.
Journalists working for Vice have requested body cam footage from all agencies involved in the response to the Uvalde school shooting. So far, no one has turned any footage over. The Border Patrol claims its body cam footage is exempt because the incident is currently under investigation. The Uvalde PD and Uvalde school district have refused to even acknowledge Vice’s public records requests. That seems about right for these two entities, which are also refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation of the shooting and local law enforcement’s response.
None of this is surprising. The school district is a hotbed of potential legal culpability at this point. And so is the police department it relies on to keep students and teachers safe… not just because that’s what people expect of law enforcement officers but also because the district utilizes department officers as on-campus law enforcement.
One Texas law enforcement agency has been a bit more forthcoming: the Texas Department of Safety has informed Vice journalists that body cam footage they’re seeking does exist. But rather than turn it over, the DPS is asking state Attorney General Ken Paxton (now in his seventh year of fraud indictment) to block the release of this footage under the theory that it might let school shooters know how little resistance they’ll face from local law enforcement agencies.
This is the assertion in favor of (apparently indefinite) secrecy the DPS has made in response to these records requests.
“Revealing the marked records would provide criminals with invaluable information concerning Department techniques used to investigate and detect activities of suspected criminal elements; how information is assessed and analyzed; how information is shared among partner law enforcement agencies and the lessons learned from the analysis of prior criminal activities,” the department wrote in a letter to the Office of the Attorney General that asked the office to prevent the release of the public records. “Knowing the intelligence and response capabilities of Department personnel and where those employees focus their attention will compromise law enforcement purposes by enabling criminals to anticipate weakness in law enforcement procedures and alter their methods of operation in order to avoid detection and apprehension.”
Keep in mind this is standard opacity boilerplate. The DPS might have said the same thing about footage of a contested cash seizure or a botched no-knock raid. But maybe someone at the DPS should have tailored the boilerplate to the situation at hand, because this response makes it appear the DPS does not want the footage released because it might show the “weakness” of the “response” to the shooting by the Uvalde PD.
But the only thing the next school shooter might learn is what they’ve learned already from press coverage of the Uvalde shooting: local law enforcement agencies may not be willing (despite being specifically informed during active shooter training that they are expected to place themselves in the line of fire) to sacrifice their lives or personal safety to save the lives of children. Few mass murderers will need to be informed that government employees will most frequently act in their own interests, often at higher rates than the rest of public.
The so-called “first rule of policing” is to make it home alive, no matter who else has to die to ensure this outcome. The DPS smoke screen being deployed here does nothing to reduce the possibility of future mass shootings or give the public a better understanding about state and local crisis response efforts. All it does is ensure the officers that let everyone down during the Robb Elementary shooting will be given every opportunity to disappoint the public again at some point in the future.