Uvalde, TX – The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department (UCISDPD) has a completely new police force who have been undergoing intense scenario training as the department continues to try to rebuild in the wake of the deadly Robb Elementary School massacre.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) indefinitely suspended its entire police force in October of 2022, more than four months after an 18-year-old gunman carried out his attack inside a fourth-grade classroom.
At least 17 other victims were wounded.
The UCISD fired its police chief, Pete Arredondo, in August 2022 and replaced him with current UCISDPD Chief Joshua Gutierrez in November of that year after the rest of the department was placed on indefinite suspension, the Uvalde Leader-News reported.
Gary Patterson, who replaced Hal Harrel as UCISD superintendent after Harrell’s abrupt retirement in October of 2022, said the school district’s police force is now fully-staffed with eight officers – none of whom were members of the department during the deadly school shooting, according to WOAI.
The district is still figuring out where each of the officers will be stationed.
Patterson said additional officers may be hired in the future in the event the school district receives more funding.
“We’ve been able to get equipment that we’ve needed, upgrade our weaponry and our inventory…” the superintendent added.
The UCISDPD underwent a particularly intense 36-hour training session this week, which included “active shooter training, hostage recognition, rescue training, and entry and confrontation exercises in both closed areas, such as classrooms, and open areas, such as cafeterias and courtyards,” the school district said in a press release.
UCISD sent out the release ahead of the training in order to assure the public the sights and sounds they might notice over at the Dual Language Academy were part of a training and not an emergency situation.
“There will be vehicle training, which will include increased speed and approach techniques,” the UCISD said. “There will also be simulated arms entry, including role-playing and firearm use.”
“We wanted parents and the community to know that simulated gunfire (blanks) will most likely be heard in the neighborhood and high-speed vehicle entry,” the school district added.
The campus was also shut down while the training was being held.
“Thank you for your understanding as we conduct these important exercises,” the UCISD said.
Patterson said the UCISDPD has been working to streamline communications with the Uvalde Police Department (UPD) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which was among several massive breakdowns during the response to the Robb Elementary School shooting, WOAI reported.
The number of DPS officers within Uvalde schools will soon be cut in half as a result of a mutual agreement between the UCISD and the state, Patterson added.