Emotions, Police Chiefs,
and Celebrity Murders

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By Rob Morse. Jan 13, 2023
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I’ve made bad decisions. Most of us accept that we can make mistakes even on our good days. Being the chief law enforcement officer for a school district that was attacked by a celebrity murderer is a horrible day indeed. Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo was in that position and made some bad decisions. It would be an even greater loss if we didn’t learn from his mistakes.

For large plans or small ones, we go through similar steps. We search for solutions. We should evaluate what works in our situation and then review our plans with others. We can pre-plan our decisions and rehearse our actions. The failure to plan is why the Uvalde, Texas school district police chief made such bad decisions that cost the lives of children and teachers in his school.

It is hard for us to make good decisions when we are under stress. That is why we plan our important decisions ahead of time. At its simplest, that is why we have drivers-education training so we have some practice before the first time we have to hit the brakes on a dark wet road. It is also why we practice fire drills at home. Those are trivial examples compared to what first responders should do during an attack on one of our schools.

You make plans every day. You bring a shopping list with you when you go for groceries. Protecting our children deserves more attention than we give to a shopping list. Saying that school officials will simply call the police in an emergency is a failure to consider the options.

The failure to study and plan is settling for failure in advance.

In an emergency, we can suffer from too many choices as well as too few. Some of those actions will help and some of them will hurt. We want to consider many possible actions ahead of time. We want to ask other knowledgeable people what they think. We want to study the range of actions that fall within best practice. Those are impossible decisions to make when someone is killing our children. We need to think about the problem now because we won’t have the time or the ability to think clearly then.

The great news is that other people have considered school security before. That means we don’t have to guess about strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have to wonder about the character of celebrity murderers or the character of school staff. We have seen how they will react when a murderer comes to one of our schools.

Some plans won’t work. We make plans every day so that our ideas die rather than us dying. We have the benefit of millions of years of experience with armed School Resource Officers. We have a hundred million years of experience with armed citizens going about in public. We have over two million man-days of experience with armed school staff. All that is good information. Unfortunately, we also have hundreds of examples of celebrity murderers who will do anything to get their name in the news.

The defenders and the attackers are known and understood. You might not know about them, but other people do. You can learn about them if you want to. It isn’t hard. The chief security officer for a school district definitely should know.

Chief Arredondo may have many strengths when it comes to law enforcement and security in the Uvalde schools. He also had a significant weakness. I made my living trying new ideas. I showed my ideas to my customers before we built them. We almost always learned something by reviewing our plans. That is why we ask school teachers if they have ideas about protecting their classroom. We ask school principals and superintendents about protecting their schools. We listen to bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and janitors. We ask outside auditors to look at our annual security plan. We’d be a fool not to listen and learn while we still have time to improve.

Time is everything.

Seconds count. A murderer at school will kill until he is stopped. That isn’t a secret, but the chief chose to ignore it. The school district police chief in Uvalde decided to treat the attack at Robb Elementary School as a hostage situation and evacuate the rest of the school rather than enter the classroom and stop the murderer. He wrote off the lives of the children and teachers in that classroom. He was wrong.

Most of us have seen pictures of the dozens of armed law enforcement agents standing in the school hallway while they waited for directions. Border patrol agents eventually entered the unlocked classroom. They shot the murderer and ended his attack on innocent children. They allowed medical personnel to finally start treating the injured and saving lives. Many students and staff died because Uvalde law enforcement waited so long to act.

At home, we escape and call 911 if we smell smoke or see fire. We can consider if we used too much fire-suppressant chemicals after the fire is out. At school, we lock the doors, call for help, and stop the murderer if we hear shots fired. That isn’t always the perfect solution but it is an excellent place to start.

We know how to stop celebrity murderers. Best practice is for armed defenders to move toward the sound of gunfire and shoot the murderer. First responders don’t wait for a partner and they don’t wait for permission to act. It is also best practice to train school staff to stop the bleeding until EMTs take over. That is old news.

For the last two decades, we’ve known what to do when a murderer comes to school.

Making a defense plan for your home isn’t magic. Tens of millions of ordinary people have done exactly that. Millions of classrooms should have a security plan. Many do. We have a right to ask if our schools have a plan.

Sadly, some school bureaucracies will play politics with our children’s safety. Fortunately, we have the courage and common sense to ask questions of our police and our school officials. It is our duty to make sure our school security plans make sense.


I gave you my best 1000 words on stopping mass murderers. Please take them to heart and act on them. RM

News Sources-

Uvalde school district police chief’s statement
Background information on the Uvalde attack
Ed Monk describes best practice


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