This week, Jim and Josh discuss the Robb Elementary Investigative Committee report.
This episode was mixed and mastered by Kate Whitmer, Clayton Faries, & Will Shute
Welcome to the second reading podcast from the university of Texas at Austin, the Republicans were in the democratic party because there was only one party. So I tell people on a regular basis, there is still a land of opportunity in America. It’s called Texas. The problem is these departures from the constitution.
They have become the norm at what. Must a female Senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room. And welcome back to the second reading podcast. I’m Jim Henson, director of the Texas politics project at the university of Texas at Austin. Happy to be joined again today by Josh blank research director of the Texas politics project.
How was your weekish Josh? It was, you know, It was good. A lot of pool time. Uh, you know, I think as the nature of these things go, maybe this is just life, or maybe this is life in 20, 22, but you know, ups and downs. Yeah. Right. But, well, but mostly, mostly very nice. Yeah. You know, it’s hashtag blessed, I think.
Yeah. That, I think we’ve, you know, yeah. We’ve given up on. solid days. Yeah, good. Yeah. Right. I was like, good enough is what I’m going for. usually, well, you know, it’s funny, you and I were talking about this as you came back about, you know, you were saying, it seemed maybe kind of quiet last week, kind of. But you were also probably, you know, I mean at the pool and I think that purposefully not, I mean, you know, there’s, yeah, there’s been a lot going on.
I think in certain kinds of ways now, not in the, I mean, obviously there’s a few big headline things, but you know, the comp controllers report on, you know, up, uh, upgraded, uh, rev estimate, estimate of the, the BI the biennial revenue estimate, big story, a bunch of, you know, um, A lot going on, but I think what we wanna focus on today, which I think is arguably the biggest story of the week, at least going into the week and a big, important thing overall is I think will become clear.
At least that’s what we think. Um, you know, I wanna focus on the report that was issued this past weekend by the house investigative committee. On the Rob elementary shootings. Um, now this report was released on Sunday attendant to a convening to the committee in Uvalde with community members. Um, you know, a little background on the committee.
This was, you know, pursuant to, you know, a request slash. Decree by the governor, uh, the Senate and the house, uh, both formed committees. The two committees have taken kind of different approaches. I think we’ve, we’ve talked about the Senate committee in here a couple times. The house committee was, um, a different kind of committee that, that speaker Dave feelin put together.
Um, Chaired by Dustin burrows, uh, Republican and yes, that Dustin burrows ally. Yes. That Dustin burrows and, and, you know, as much as you can sort of. Settle on these categories, more or less an ally of, of obviously an trusted person, as far as it goes by the speaker. Um, Democrat, Joe Moody, who has also been, he is, you know, a Democrat, but somebody who has been.
Comparatively aligned with the speaker. Shall we say? I’d say, and I would say respect, respectfully active in the space. Yeah. I mean, had been, you know, was given a emphasis on respect yeah. Was given a position to chamber by the speaker, et cetera. Um, and then, you know, an interesting selection I thought at the time and you know, but I mean, explainable in political terms then former chief justice, uh, uh, I’m I’m not chief justice.
Yes. Former justice of the Supreme court have a Goman. You know, who had recently former finished third attorney general as a candidate in the race. Pardon me for attorney general. So, um, and then a, a, you know, a bucket of staff members and, you know, they had a series of executive session hearings meeting hearings that were.
Held not in the public eye, took a lot of testimony promised to produce an interim report. This interim report was distributed Sunday to, to great interest and relatively quickly, I mean, I’d say the process. Yeah. And, and, and I think, you know, we’re gonna have a lot to say about the report, but I mean, you know, just to get it out front, I mean, you know, they did a service with the report.
Yeah, I think so. For sure. You know, I think particularly given, uh, You know, the very erratic and often contradictory release of information and, you know, frankly, you know, the politics and blame shifting that have been going on, you know, across the political system, you know, uh, across principles, including the leadership of the state.
And I think there was a real hunger for something that synthesized. What we think we know up to the state, including some things we don’t know. And we’ll talk a little bit about that. Yeah. But I think, you know, a a as I remember my first read of the document on Sunday afternoon, um, lazy Sunday, it was nice to have, I mean, nice is the wrong word.
You know, you know, it was engaging and useful to read a comprehensive. Kind of accounting of some of the things that we know to date, you know, particularly, you know, the background of, of the shoe, the attacker, as we say, the attacker is the term they use in the, in the report. Right. Um, you know, and a, an attempt at constructing a linear narrative of the response now, you know, Journalistic outlets have done this and they’ve done, you know, not a terrible job.
Mm-hmm , but I mean, there’s just been so much dispute. And, and the, I, I thought the committee report does a good job of sort of flagging some of those disputes, but not getting too bogged down into the, you know, I think a lot of the. Mentions of, well, there was an account that said this, but then that was later corrected, wind up in the footnotes.
I, I think for the most part, yeah. I mean, you know, there’s not a lot of, I mean, in a few places, I think where there’s still open questions, it’s in the body of the text, but a lot of it is kind of relegated to, you know, other than, you know, and I know this is something you notice, wanna talk about other than the kind of shots at the press and things like that.
Yeah. I mean, there was definitely an attempt in the report, I think to play it straight, you know, so much as playing it straight occurs within some pretty clear boundaries. Right. Right. And I think, you know, and I said, as people who’ve who followed this, you know, very closely, you know, and I’d say closely professionally and more closely than I’d probably like personally.
Yeah. It’s not like reading the report. You don’t come out with a better understanding. I think of, of, of, of sort of a, a picture of really what, what happened that day and what didn’t happen maybe a little bit less, but no, I think that’s right. I think that’s right. And so, you know, to that extent, and again, I.
You know, hats off to the staff. I mean, you know, I, you know, if someone out there hears this and knows better correcting me, but obviously, you know, the staff did most of the work and the composing of this report. Yeah. I would assume. Yeah, because that’s how things work and, um, you know, they, they did a good job of this, I think.
Um, so let’s talk about, so top lines of the report, you know, or, you know, you, you know, we have some notes sort of, you know, It’s also a little bit about the top lines in the report, Josh based kind of on, you know, you’ve got, we’ve got notes sort of arranged in the order that they’re presented in the report and I’ll come back to that.
Cause I think there’s some interesting things about that. So, and that’s the thing, I mean, I think, you know, as far as this goes, it’s, it’s sort of, you know, it’s. It’s one of these things. This is, I mean, we’ve been talking about kind of talking about this once you and I have read both read this. Like it’s the only thing we can think about because it’s such an interesting document in some ways, and there’s a lot of aspects and sort of ways you could look at this.
I think we’ll kind of, we’ll, we’ll kind of go through, you know, talking about the top lines of the report and, and I think about I’m presenting this in the order that’s presented in the report. And I think that’s important because I mean, is that, you know, You’re a professor Dr. Henson. I’m not, I’m just a researcher, but ultimately tell people to like organize their arguments.
So you kind of do look at the order of things to kind of understand emphasis, et cetera. So I think it’s worth starting there. Yeah. I, I, I, you know, it’s something I wrote for this, you know, rhetorical strategy, it’s a rhetorical strategy. So, so if we go in the order presented the report, you know, I mean the first top line is, you know, the school wasn’t prepared.
Culturally nor physically and culturally, I mean, you know, there’s, this sort of doors were left, unlocked all the time. There were safety protocols that were kind of routinely ignored for reasons that are explained, I think, in the report, but this is sort of the top line. This is the first thing we talk about is the school.
Right? I think it’s what the section is titled and kind of how, where the school came up short in the lead up to this endurance, right? The next, uh, sort of big top on the report is that, you know, first responders really failed to prioritize saving lives and then failed really to coordinate their response.
After that. I mean, once they had kind of settled into this sort of defensive posture, right? Big, big, you know, lack of coordination and big, big lack of leadership, uh, you know, then there’s a very long section about the background of, of the attacker and the takeaway. I think there is that, you know, it seems like a lot of people thought that the attacker might be a, be a danger.
He was making, you know, Continuous though, sometimes kind of veiled threats and yet, you know, no one really prior to the attack prior to the attack. Yeah. And yet no one really seemed to take him or that danger really terribly seriously. Now it does raise the question of had they taken it seriously. Right.
What were the next steps have even been? Yeah, I mean, I think there’s, yeah, there’s a lot of que yeah, there’s a lot of questions. I mean, that is an interest, you know, not to jump ahead, but I mean, It’s an implicit point of emphasis. Mm-hmm I think in that account mm-hmm that there were several instances where people around him detected, you know, what we would think of in retrospectively as warning signs.
Yeah. I mean, look, it’s. It’s true. I mean, whether it’s a failure of individuals around this person, whether family members loose, you know, loose acquaintances or whatever, or a society in general that like someone can kind of jokingly be called school shooter repeatedly by multiple people as he’s making these veiled threats.
And it kind of never gets escalated. I mean, that’s sort just another discussion for another day, but it does, but it does. Yeah. But it doesn’t trigger any kind of response and that’s. Kind of par from, you know, I mean, I think that’s one of the things that the, the, the report is, is sort of flagging. We should also mention, I mean, You know, the preface of the report is very explicit about the fact that this is an interim report.
Mm-hmm , they will cont they, they will learn more. They tend to continue to work. Um, and you know, the preface, you know, has a lot of, you know, I mean, they’re caveats and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way. Yeah. Where they say, look, you know, some of this. May turn out to be wrong. Yeah, we will certainly find out more.
There are sources of information we don’t have. Now. I do think in a couple of spaces, they use that as to prepare the grand for some of Asian, but nonetheless. , you know, it is fair to say that, you know, they’re, they’re promising more to come, right. And, and they acknowledge, you know, that there are, you know, limits to what they know right now.
So then after kind of the top line of this is what the, how the report was organized. The next sort of piece of this I think is kind of what was the media response of this, but I think was pretty good for the most part. And I was kind of scouring through the articles, but then sort of the takeaway articles, you know, it’s like, what are the four things?
What are the five things? What are the six things? And they really. I think seized on four major pieces of the report. Number one, you know, the size of the law enforcement presence there that day, you know, I said almost 400 officers, uh, the lack of sort of incident command leadership and the lack of communication.
So that’s one kind of bucket of just sort of, yeah. And, and I think that, you know, Mo most of the accounts that I have read. lead with that. Yes. That’s, you know, that’s, that’s the, the lead is broad swath of law enforcement failure across federal state and local agencies in general terms as a summation of the report.
Yeah. And I think there’s also something there and I mean, you know, not to. I mean, look, once you start interpreting something, you interpret it. Right? Yeah. And so I think there is an asset to this that I think is kind of obvious. And I’ll just say it, which is, there is sort of a media response to this that says, Hey, look, here was another mass shooting.
And by the way, there were 400 cops there. Yeah. And I think that’s, you know, is an well, and I think that’s worth, you know, I, you know, that’s worth flagging, you know, explicitly that one of, you know, and I, I, I don’t know if I think this was the first time. that we had seen this thorough an accounting of the personnel, but I mean, the report actually it’s what, three hundred and seventy six, three hundred and seventy six law enforcement personnel.
I, I counted it for the thing, I think for 18 different agencies, something like that. Yeah. Something like that around that, but mostly 150 or so border petroleums about 91 DPS officers. Right. And then about, you know, teens or, or handfuls of. Right. And then, you know, and again, I mean, there’s not most of the agencies in that rural, you know, predominantly rural region don’t have.
A total of 90 personnel, not at all. No. So, so that’s one, uh, you know, there’s a season on sort of this, this, as you already kind of mentioned, this seem kind of fundamental systemic failure critique, which I think we’re gonna come back to another sort of big, you know, sort of, you know, re sort of the interpretation of the report is, you know, either the, you know, school safety fell short, the locks, the communication systems, or it was too relaxed due to a number of factors.
They’re talking about these bailouts, which is basically when a, uh, a. Usually, I mean, I think, I dunno if it’s a large number, but a number of undocumented immigrants in a vehicle are trying to get away from border control and essentially crash the vehicle and then scatter. Right. And this sort of, this has been triggering a large number of lockdowns in the schools shooting deployment of randomization.
Yeah. Well, well, anyway, you know, so either, so number of fact, bailouts old infrastructure, bad communication systems, even sound of the substitute, you know, the use of substitute teachers will come back to this and then, you know, the other general, the last sort of general media responses. Yeah. The reporting of a newer, at least more comprehensive accounting of the attackers background.
Right. And kind of led up to this. So that’s sort of those sort of the, those are the two pillars of kind of the broad kind of here’s what the. Kind of was how was organized. Here’s what the media responsive. And I think the next thing we should kind of talk about before we get into some of, more of the politics of this, which is really what this podcast is about.
Right. It’s sort of the other high level takeaways. Yeah. And these are things that like, I think, you know, going back to what I was thinking was, and this is like, You know, you and I have been following this really closely. And what are some other things that kind of stand out to me, I guess, or use sort of a reaction to this thing?
So, you know, the first thing I say is, you know, obviously, you know, this is a political document. I mean, I don’t want, you know, there’s gambling going on here. Yeah. I mean, the report opens and closes with, with sort of not very veiled digs at the media first for reporting and then correcting the inaccuracies propagated by.
The state, uh, and then for releasing information before the committee was done with its report, you know, which is sort of high profile thing, they gone with the video release and some other stuff. Yeah. Yeah. The video released, I think was, you know, and just to make sure people know what we’re talking about.
I mean, early in the week prior to, and actually it might have even been the previous Sunday night or early the Monday a week before the report came out. Um, there had been a lot of discussion. The compilation of video that had been that the committee and some of the investigating agencies had an edited version of that made its way into the hands of the, uh, the American, the Austin American statesman, K you know, K X, a N, and the increasingly ubiquitous Tony PKI.
Yeah. Um, uh, and I mean that as compliment, yeah. Say he was good before he was says, you hear this? He was good before he was increasingly ubiquitous. Right. I wanna say that. , you know, there was a lot of bad feeling about the fact that that had been, that that video had been leaked, you know, some criticism of the statesmen in K X, a for releasing it prior to the committee.
Although I think for the most part, you know, it was, and, and, and it became, you know, like in strictly political terms, I mean, I’m sure there were some people that were unhappy about it simply because it was yet, you know, it created yet. News cycle or two, you know, use a quaint term, you know, at, at the national level, in which, right.
This, you know, the, the, you know, I certainly am flipping through, you know, the major cable channels saw this footage many times in the following week on the major cable networks and all of them. I’m sure they would’ve much rather released it in the context that they wanted. Yes. So, you know, something else that kind of stands out, this is kind of, you know, broad, but I mean, there are a lot of habitual, like themes of Texas politics in this report, you know, it, you know, you got an under-resourced school district kind of making due with what it has.
You have, you know, a student in this case kind of following through the, the very large cracks in the system repeatedly. Yeah. Uh, you know, poverty. Uh, you know, especially rural poverty. I mean, I would say rural infrastructure is something that kind of comes up in this, if you think about it. And then, you know, the thing that’s kinda leading next is, you know, blaming the feds, blaming, you know, immigrants in terms of the breakouts and, and, and really, you know, the kind of through theme in a lot of ways, you know, blaming the locals.
Yeah. And I think it’s worth decomposing that just a little bit. I mean, you know, in terms of the, you know, look, it’s an election year in Texas, and so there has been. from the very first moment, a lot of consciousness of who was gonna be blamed for this. Now that is gonna happen. Whenever something goes wrong in a really big fundamental dare we say systemic way, right?
um, to, to use the language of the report, um, and you know, in an election year, that is gonna be even more pronounced, you know, I think you have to be willfully. uh, what’s the word? I don’t ignorance, not the right word. I mean, I think you have to be, will a little willfully naive to say that, you know, efforts to say, Hey, the federal government, you know, really, you know, sort of snotty remarks about the federal gov government, um, you know, a lot of emphasis on, you know, uh, uh, the role of, um, , you know, the immigrant pursuits, you know, prior data that they had sort of softened the system and, you know, made, made teachers and administrators and law enforcement, you know, a little lax about security alerts at the school.
Yeah. You know, that all, you know, resonates so strongly yeah. With the political environment of the moment. Yeah. I, you know, you. Uh, you know, there’s no way that there’s not some self-awareness that, that resonance is going to be there when you’re writing this report. Now that doesn’t mean you should omit them or whatever, but it’s there.
Well, and spoiler alert, it was the federal government’s police force that actually decided to breach the room. Apparently, at least in the report at no direction from the incident commander or anybody, as far as we can tell, at least at this point, yeah. They made a, you know, they made a decision look in some ways, you know, but, but even in that, I mean in this, the we of the report, but even in that, the report.
Is a little implicitly, I would say implicitly. I, you know, the report to me again in the composition of it very directly makes sure that the reader knows that yes, as everybody has heard, add infinitum in the last two months, uh, uh, you’ve. Is C I S D police, chief Aon made, you know, bad decisions. They’re very direct about that in the report, you know, was, you know, ha you know, has some responsibility for delaying the response.
Right. But they’re pretty clear when they summarize the document to also say, and by the way, Yeah, the federal guy, you know, the federal forces that did ultimately lead the breach were also waiting for gear, a rifle, rated shields, a rifle rated shield, et cetera. And they also waited. Yeah. A while after arrival to actually go in.
So yeah, let’s all, you know, and then we’ll get back to, who’s not mentioned in that account, but so it’s, it’s pretty, you know, it’s pretty direct. And I wanna pause and just say, yeah, what I would say to people also just, I would urge you look, it’s 77 pages. It’s not, it’s not actually 77 pages. Well, yeah, because it’s a little shorter than that, I guess.
Or actually as a document, it’s a little longer, depending on how you read it, but it’s, you know, yeah. 70 something pages, you know, It is very worth anybody’s effort who is interested in this, or even has feelings about it, frankly, to read the entire report. Right. And to read it, you know, with some care.
Right. So going back to kind of some takeaways here, you know, about blaming the locals. I mean, one of the interesting things you go a little bit deeper. I mean, to me, that’s interesting, I guess, is, you know, You’ve all these CIS DCI, despite the fact that, you know, again, the beginning of the report kind of describes how the school, you know, basically the school is the first point of kind of failure, at least as a priority emphasis in the report.
But I mean, you’ve all these CISD as CIS D D was described as one of the few Texas school districts that have actually submitted a viable, active shooter policy. Now, did they seem to have implemented hor horrific. Yes. Yeah, they failed at implementing it, but they also was one of the few districts that have spent state funds to upgrade security allotted in 2019, they spent on cameras, fencing, magnetic entries at some schools.
I think this is kind of partially what we talk about. We talk about hardening. So in some ways, you know, you kinda look at this and you say, Yeah, but like, weren’t they doing everything that they’re supposed to do again, this’s just kind of one of my takeaways and stuff. I mean, I understand that the implementation was poor, but the truth is from what we’ve seen, you know, and this, and the report makes this point.
There’s 80,000, probably over 80,000 buildings in Texas, that house school, age children, at some point during the day, yes. There’s a lot of facilities to manage. There’s 1200 school districts, you know, ultimately you read this report, you realize, you know, we’re talking about this one school and we’ll kinda go back to.
but like you could be talking about any school. Yes. And this school actually seemed to be doing a lot of things that the legislature had wanted them to do. I mean, they had its own police force. They had, they wave in that direction. Yeah. I mean, they have a report waves in that direction. I mean, you know, again, Aradondo had some big failures, but I mean, they have a police chief with experience.
They have a force they’re spending this money, they have a plan, like they’re actually doing what you’re supposed to do. Yeah. Um, you know, I kind of think, you know, other thing is this under the blaming the locals, you know, I mean, the talk about the school again, you know, I say there’s no villains, but you know, a regret, a regrettable culture of non-compliance.
Yeah. And it’s hard to come away then say, you know, this like the, the most, the newest school in, in UAL, these CISDs built in like 1980 something. You know, they describe the maintenance situation in which you’ve got basically non experts going around watching YouTube videos to fix the locks, which by the way, like the maker of went out of business last year and can no longer even be achieve.
There’s a reason there’s 50, 60 keys, you know, Around this thing. And then the other, you know, sort of blaming the locals theme is, you know, the sustained focus on our Redondo, which. You know, it’s an odd tension yeah. In this whole document. Right. And, and it’s hard. And this is the thing that I sort of took away from this, you know, I think that’s easy to have a lot of contempt for a Dondo.
And I, you know, say mistake. Yeah. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes were made I’m but the things yes were made by him and he’s going to have to live with what he could have and should have done differently for the rest of his life. But it’s hard to read this document and not come away with the conclusion that ER, Donna.
Not the incident commander in any functional sense. Yeah. And, and, and I think that when, and, and look, they, this is one of those areas where, you know, the rhetorical approach of, you know, there are, you know, there is a rhetorical approach in this document. Mm-hmm and the treatment of ado there, a very complex complex part of this, because on one hand, I, I, you know, seems to me the committee, the authors are conscious.
You know, he was the first available scapegoat. Everybody knows that, you know, foreshadow where we’re going, you know, the, the director of DPS, Steve McCraw was very, very critical of him and very directly critical of him. Mm-hmm others have been very directly critical of him. He’s done himself, no favors by giving some uneven accounts.
Right. Um, including a, a, a early interview with the Tribune, which I’m sure he’s now regretting, um, but that said, you know, as you say there, a lot of other things going on here, and it’s one of the areas where the report is. We said it to the beginning provides a lot of clarity, but it also subtly reinforces some of the narratives that have been built out there around.
You know what the reflexive assignment of blame is going to look like going forward. And as we look back on this, you know, the thing that I think struck me the most, and I mean that stuck with me the most in the report, in terms of thinking about it this way was, you know, in the, going through this section on the response of thereon, they, they, a lot of people point out, well, he wrote the active school shooter policy and the first thing I think to myself.
Yeah. I, first thing I think to myself is okay, Of the 376 officers on site that day. How many were aware that maybe one of, kind of the, the least trained kind of, you know, in terms of departmental ranking officers is now in charge of this whole entity? I mean, the idea that like, you know, there’s no dimension of this, that any of the DPS officers there or any of the border patrol officers or anybody else was aware that there was an active school shooter policy that placed Aradondo in charge.
Number one, Number two, if you actually then look at the policy, which they lay out in the report and let put something, please, just before you move on that second, second part of the, well, actually, maybe you’re gonna say, go ahead and move the policy thing. Well, I say then when you, they lay out the actual policy, the, the response that was supposed to be.
Engaged in by Ardo. It’s very clear that from the minute he was inside the building in the hallway, he was not the incident commander. He right. Initial, because he could not have done any of the things that the policy laid out. And so in that sense, you know, no look and whether he did this at full awareness of that or not, his initial thing is like, I never thought of myself as the incident commander.
Right. I, you know, is somewhat consi. Now he could have made a different decision. He could. Yeah, left the immediate scene and gone instead of which is what he probably should have done based on the policy. That’s probably what he should have done given. , you know, but, but there’s also, you know, I mean that same policy that people are pointing to and that the report is very explicit at pointing to and saying, you know, in the policy he wrote, he was first on the list of right.
Of, of, you know, incident commander, but there was a list. Yeah. And there were other people below that that could have taken over once he, right. It was clear that he was in the building and for whatever reason wasn’t gonna leave. And that’s the other key part. And so you go from there and you say, okay, and this is what’s instrument about the report.
Is it in some ways, you know, it lays out that you. His policy says, he’s the incident commander. It lays out what that means. And then it kind of moves on to the next thing you say. Huh? Okay. yeah, but the next thing is, well, what, what is this, this incident commander, you know, again, and I should say, you know, I am so very much a civilian, so feel free to limb bass, anything I say, but basically, you know, from my understanding of it as a, as a very informed and interested layman here, the next piece of this is, well, what, how does, how does incident command get passed?
Right. And it goes through that process. And what’s clear to me, again, is sort of a, someone just kind of reading this and trying to understand it is that, you know, the incident command piece is very fluid. Usually, especially at the beginning of these incidents, the first person who rises by definition, the incident in commander, whether it was Aradondo are not.
Yeah, he would’ve been probably the incident of commander because he was there, but the ideas and I, my understanding from reading it is that at that point you kind of pass it on and up. Yeah. And part of that, it seems from reading the report is, is that one you want to pass it on to higher ranking officers with more authority?
Number two, you wanna pass on the information up the chain, number three, by passing the information on then that now, now in charge, officer can delegate the responsibility to create the organization that wasn’t there and the report to be fair to the authors of the report, the report does do a good job of, you know, in some ways.
You know, dropping him dropping in the oil, but also stepping back and saying, Anne, this is where they’re talking about a systemic breakdown. There’s a lot about the, the flawed information flow. There’s a lot about, you know, the, the lack of infrastructure for this lack, you know, and a lack of communication.
So I don’t want to, you know, get too, too, too bogged down and all that, but no, absolutely. But I think, but the point is the report walks up to the point of saying, yeah, you know, this is what we would expect to happen. And then. And it didn’t moving on. Yeah. And that’s sort of, and that’s certain, I think, you know, real quick, I mean, as far as political emissions go, the one that like stands out as, I mean, one of the two sort of big ones really.
Yeah. Is, you know, the department of public safety had 91 officers there that day. And I believe that’s the first time we’ve seen that number. I could be wrong. I’m pretty sure it is. And so, you know, while the individual failings of a Dondo and the Yul police are there, kind of this great, great detail, everything that’s going on around their involvement outside of the hallways, outside of rooms, one 11, and one 12 is basically describe somewhat Bre easily as systemic failure without any sort of further content.
Yeah. I mean little, you know, schematic details. Um, You know, as you say, you know, you were saying earlier, I mean, or, you know, before we came on. Yeah. You know, there’s a couple of references of a couple of things that a DPS person does. Yeah. Right. But there’s no real kind of sense of how they intersected.
It’s almost as if they were outside of the systemic failure. And I think this does move back to like, you know, You know, I critique I would have of the coverage is that, and, and again, I think the rhetorical approach of the report encourages the pattern in the coverage, right? That says, oh, they damn all law enforcement, but if you really go and look closely, they come down hardest on the locals and then.
As I was saying earlier, take a couple of, you know, very subtle, but I think still kind of pokes at the Fe at, at the federal officials, like, Hey, these guys, you know, weren’t heroes either, right. As almost the, you know, the implication and the state level officials are almost entirely absent from the narrative.
It’s right. I mean, what’s curious to me about it is, you know, again, taking, I mean, you know, again, it’s sort of like, it’s like a play, right? It’s like what’s going on off stage, but like, you know, to take the report and, you know, they’re sort of trying to acknowledge that, you know, there’s information flowing outside the room, outside the building, among the officers about, you know, there’s children on the phone with nine one, one and the rooms and part of what, you know what I would wonder just to throw this out there, if I’m it’s like, so who heard that.
Yeah. Who knew what outside, because ultimately, you know, I think, you know, I understand and look, it’s a, it’s a crazy situation, obviously. Yeah. And I think, you know, when you get in there, I think, you know, obviously in. I mean, I can imagine if you’re standing outside as a law enforcement officer, even with the best intentions, you know, how long is too long to wait, when you think, when, when you think that you’re reacting to the information that you have in front of you.
Right. You know, it says it’s five minutes too long is 10 minutes. What’s going. But at some point, you know, you think after like 20, 25, 30 minutes, when you know that it’s not a barricaded subject, or at least some people know that it’s not a barricaded subject, you’d think at that point it’s somebody’s responsibility to.
Update the approach, right. And that’s sort of just completely, completely outside the bounds of what we’re talking about in this report, which I think is interesting. And you said, I mean, I look through, you know, there’s a mention of sort of DPS investigators provide information at the front of the report.
There’s a lot of references to those in the footnotes. And then there’s basically two more references to DPS officers in the rest of the 77 pages. One is basically a passing officer asking a question and the other, uh, substantive re reference. To the role, uh, that, you know, the regional director for south Texas, right.
Uh, played in a very inaccurate press briefing the day after the shooting and basically kind of tries to absolve him of hi, of being wrong. Its and I went through the quote here it’s you know, that says director Escalon, who has not based in Uvalde had arrived on the scene shortly before the attacker was killed.
He did not personally witness the bulk of the day’s events, leaving him to depend on secondhand knowledge acquired from other law enforcement officers. Who’d been part of the response and it’s like, And look, you know, we should, you know, we have to say, look, there’s, there’s definitely, you know, looming over this unmentioned in the report is, you know, the embarrassment to the governor for his factually incorrect statements.
And. The earliest right on the, you know, the first day and a, you know, in, in which the governor had to walk that back and go back and say, I was misinformed is terrible, whatever, but I mean, certainly below the surface behind the scenes, there is a lot of search for. whose fault was that? Well again, yeah.
and here the best I can say is, yeah, that was because he, he didn’t know. Right. And it’s like, well, okay. So, I mean, that’s kind, you know, I mean, sure. So, I mean, that’s kind of, I mean, that’s the one, I mean, that’s one major absence. I mean, do you wanna add anything to the absence of DPS? No. I mean, I, you know, well, I mean, I think just in terms of factual update and, and.
Uh, I have no direct evidence that this timing was not a coincidence was a, not a coincidence, but it certainly aligned with the timing of the report that on Monday, you know, it wa you know, DPS spokes spokesman announced, um, that DPS would be conducting an internal investigation of the response of the response.
and that, you know, and DPS, you know, focused on DPS, but that there was also already a Texas ranger investigation of the response of all law enforcement that started right away. And there was a kind of implication in, in the statement that was quoted in the press saying, um, yeah, I, you. Uh, this is sort of standard operating procedure.
I mean, you know, I was gonna write about this in this piece that I posted to, to the blog today and, you know, I want it better it out, but there’s a, you know, it had very much the feel of like, you know, we got this, nothing to see her folks move on. Yeah. And well, and also I think the other side, I think that’s not gonna work well.
And that was the other implication was, you know, this is kind of standard. So like yeah. You know exactly, exactly. You know, and it was a Sunday night, so I’m not, you know, bitching in anybody who might hear this and it gets back to DPS. But I, I wrote somebody, I mean, I wrote the DPS email address yesterday saying, cause I couldn’t find the statement.
Right, right. So, so, so you, you, you mentioned the blog piece yeah. That you had written and I think, you know, and so part of that was focused on, again, the omission of, of, of the department of public safety. The other thing that was the big O mission, I think you did a really good job with my piece. I think people should read it.
I know I’m gonna, I think, I think it’s a good piece in the truth is I think, you know, just as an aside, It’s hard to, you know, kind of interpret this document verbally like this in a way that sort of is I think feels fully satisfying. But I think in the blog piece, because you have the text in front of you and you’re kind of referencing what’s going on.
I think you really do a good job of this. The other sort of major omission is the role of the weapon that the shooter had. Right. Right. And, and, and you know, what struck me about that and what really was the bur under the saddle among other things in, in putting that piece together, which you know, is ultimately.
I mean, it’s got some of the public opinion stuff that we usually emphasize in the stuff we do on the site, but also kind of dwells on the text. And as I keep saying, the rhetorical strategy, the document, um, you know, you know, the, the weapon that the shooter used to my mind based on what I read in the report.
Yeah. And this really hadn’t occurred to me. Too much, you know, in a very well formed way until I actually read the report. Yeah, absolutely. But the report points in multiple places to the importance of the fact that this 18 year old had this very lethal weapon, you know, the, you know, and people are, you know, people will ride and say, well, you know what you’re talking about?
You know, what is AR 15 style doesn’t mean? Anything? Assault, weapon doesn’t mean any things, you know, I. , you know, our rated podcast. I just think that’s bullshit. Right. Right. I mean, this is a weapon that is designed to be, you know, lethal. Yeah. And in, and, and in designed to have a lot of fire power and more to the point, it’s not even not that general point.
The point is that for all the talk about systemic failure and all the talk about failures across the, the scope of the agency, one thing right across the school district and across the mental health system. Right. One thing that is very clear is that, and, and the. Illustrates this in very direct, nicely empirical terms observed terms, right?
That the first responders get there, the walls are all shot up. There are bullet holes in the wall. It describes quote unquote clouds of drywall dust mm-hmm because they arrive just after a spate of, of discharges. Right. It describes somebody being killed, who was or injured. Who was, she was injured, not killed.
Yeah. Who was shot through. Would appear to be at least two walls, right? And then it describes a breach that is repelled by law enforcement officers, and then gives you video of, you know, allowing for the fact that video is not as necessarily reliable as we think, but that certainly com you know, in conjunction with the text description shows the.
armed law enforcement officials were treating back to the ends of the hallway. Mm-hmm where they are, you know, safe to stage. and they’re clearly worried about being shot through the walls by this high powered weapon. And they are clearly in all of the, you know, all of the chap that is, you know, all of the, the accounts that emphasize the delay in waiting because they were, they wanted better equipment.
They wanted the rifle rated shield. I mean, all of that is predicated on knowledge that there is a high powered weapon in the. which they has already repelled them once mm-hmm and which has already demonst, you know, demonstrated that, you know, whatever munitions he’s using will penetrate the walls. So they are not safe approaching the room.
Yeah. Now how you do a recitation of facts of the case. Mm-hmm . At the end of that document, which is how the document ends with this very, it’s an all, you know, it’s a bureau, you know, look, I get it for clarity’s sake, but it’s almost bureaucratically perverse in the way that you have this outlined document.
And the only mentions of guns, you know, is a very weirdly obtuse reference to the fact that he bought the guns and the two assault weapons and the ammunition. Um, legally after he turned 18 from a licensed gun dealer. And that’s it, where if you’re gonna talk about the police, you know, quote unquote failure and the responsible, but the response there, you know, it is just, to me, it’s logically, just indefensible.
Well, to not talk about the weapon. Yeah. I mean, the, in the intersection, I. Wrote down you, it says that the purpose of the report was to quote critically examining the contributing, I’m sorry. Critically examine the contributing factors. Right. And it’s like, and to your point, you know, how do you, how do you square that?
I mean, there’s a, there’s a quote, you know, they have the transcript from Aradondo speaking to the dis the 9 1, 1 dispatcher about, and she asked, you know, do you need squat? And he says, and this is the quote he says, yes. And they need to be outside of this building prepared because we don’t have enough fire power right now.
It’s all pistol. And he has an AR 15. Yeah. And he mentions the R 15 twice. Yeah. Twice in that extreme, in that call with the Uvalde police. I mean, and so, and again, you know, it’s implicit in the tactical approach. and, you know, not to, I mean, I think that it’s reasonable to say this was at all, you know, that there was a mistaken judgment.
Yeah. You know, in terms of, you know, treating him as, as a barricaded situation rather than active suitor situation. Absolutely. And that they should have gone. I think that is all utterly correct. But look beyond that decision. I don’t see how you explain the psychology of the tactical approach. Right. You know, they want to talk about, you know, the culture of whatever.
I mean, there’s something else that is out there that is predicated, you know, and is very present among the first responders that is predicated on the fire power that they know is, has been deployed by the shooter. And I, you know, and I do not know how you. Justify. I mean, you know, I would anticipate the justification.
I don’t, you know, I don’t, I don’t wanna second guess I’ll let you know, to the extent that people are going to talk about it. We could, we could shift to the polling in a second, you know? Yeah. But I mean, I think that it is, um, you know, given the polling that we’re gonna talk about in a second, I don’t see how you can look at that and not see the poli you know, the politics of guns, gun policy, gun safety.
What we know about both. Popular opinion, public opinion and elite opinion on this and the positions of the parties. Given the precedence of how this is played to not see this as. Starkly political omission in the report. And one that does, you know, does a disservice. Yeah. I mean, this is, I mean, you know, it’s UN it’s unfortunate.
Cause I mean, we started the podcast, you know, sort of phrasing the report for what it does and we’re ending by sort of, you know, really highlight it’s like what you’re doing with the report does, Hey, we’re just here to call balls at strikes. Yeah. Well it’s but, but I mean, you know, I think what it is is it does raise this sort of issue again, which.
You know, we talked about this, you know, right in the wake of the shooting, I wrote about it, you know, I think the week of, and you and I have talked about it since then, but ultimately, you know, this is sort of another entry into kind of the really stagnant politics around this kind of stuff. I mean, even the report even goes on to mention the fact that, you know, the owner of the gun store didn’t see anything wrong with them.
Then this was an FBI interviews. Although the FBI officer interviews, other patrons who were there, who all basically said no gave off, you know, I think the quote. Appeared odd and looked like one of those school shooters. Yeah. Was the quote. Yeah. Yeah. He was all dressed in black. One of them says, yeah. He said, yeah.
In other, describe his all black clothing as simply giving off quote, bad vibe. So, you know, I mean the idea that we’re not, you know, gonna talk about the fact that, oh, you know, I’ll just add to this. This one piece is, you know, by, by the account, given it looks like that this mass shooting was the first time that this attacker may have ever even shot a gun.
Yeah. Which just sort of speaks to, I mean, again, and you sort of read that piece and again, I’m just sitting here listening to how easy it is for someone to go from having, you know, a horrific idea to implementing it. Yeah. In a state that basically has no laws limiting gun access, especially if you basically just turned 18.
Anyway, but the other thing is to your point about, you know, it’s hard not to look at this global document is because it aligns so clearly with the public opinion data. And we’ll go through this quick with the partisan patterns and gun attitudes yeah. With the partisan patterns and gun tell so real quick, right.
You know, in June we asked a number of questions obviously about, you know, gun violence, uh, you know, mass shootings, gun control. We asked about the causes of massing, which we’ve done a number of times, uh, 25% of Texans blame, current gun laws as the major is. Critical factor that sort leads to these mass shootings.
That’s gone up over time. That’s the plurality response. That’s the plurality. A quarter of people, quarter people have been in that. Yeah. 20% said failures of the mental health system, 13% said unstable family situations. And just as a side down the list, 7% insufficient security public buildings, which is sort of a response du Jo for these things among Democrats, 50% say current gun laws, not surprising, right.
Among Republicans only, I think 6% say Kurt gun laws, 25% say failures of the mental health system and their 21% say unstable family situation, 13% blame the media, the attention that they give to perpetrators and then 11% blaming sufficient security. So it’s ultimately, when you think about what’s in the report and what’s not in the report, you know, I mean the biggest section is about, you know, basically about the attacker’s mental health kind of leading up to it.
Yeah. His family’s situation there’s digs at the media and then it talks about the failures of the school. So it’s a. Fair description of what the emphasis in the report. Then when we talk about the omission of guns, you know, we ask the question we’ve asked many times, would the us be more or less safe?
If more people Gared guns overall, a plurality of Texans, 43% say less safe, 34% say more safe, but again, 77% of Democrats say less safe. A majority of Republicans, 57% say more safe. So the idea that, you know, removing guns is the response, or something’s just not, it’s a non-starter. Having said all that.
And, you know, to your point is like, you know, thinking about systemic issues. Yeah. Right. You know, ultimately Texas looks like a lot of other places when it comes to some of these high profile potential kind of gun safety laws, you know, a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons, you know, which is pretty strong policy statement has.
Majority approval, 54%, 39% opposed, but ultimately that’s 84% of Democrats, only 31% of Republicans. 63% of Republicans would oppose a baned Semitic weapons. Yeah. Raising the H to purchase a firearm from 1821 60% approval, 91% of Democrats, 56% of Republicans that. We’ll see what happens with that? Yeah, they’re still 40% opposed.
Red flag law supports 66% of text sends 89% of Democrats and Republicans on balance are in favor 49, support, 40 oppose, some other attitudes that kind of fall out of this. I think that are important in the general discussion attitudes towards the police. 75% of Republicans hold a favorable attitude towards the police.
Only 11% and unfavorable attitudes, attitudes towards public schools. The plurality Republicans, 46% hold an unfavorable opinion towards the public schools, which is sort of falls outta the politics that we’ve been witnessing lately that have really politicized schools, a 32% hold a favorable opinion. So ultimately, you know, when you think about the emphasis of the report, where the blame is, you know, overlay that the fact that we’re in an election year, as you know, you point out yeah.
You know, it, it it’s, you know, and again, I think the things that we’ve played, it’s hard not to look at this and say, you know, this is a, this is a, this report does a lot to advance our understanding, but it’s still a political document. Yeah. I, you know, I mean, I, I wrestled with this a little bit in, in thinking about the podcast, right.
And putting the piece together for the site and thinking about, you know, what, we’re gonna do this going forward. I mean, you know, to, to begin to tie it together a little bit, I. You know, we’re better off with the report. Yes, absolutely. And, you know, it’s, it’s a good exercise and, you know, but I also think, you know, it’s important and I think this is, you know, the space we try to live in at least a little bit is that, you know, it’s important to be straightforward about the impact of politics on governance.
Mm-hmm yeah. You know, to succinctly put it as succinctly as possible and you know, to not. To not reserve those judgements because you know, there is something, you know, we’re still better off for having the report. I mean, to be clear eye about the report and what it says. Yeah. You have to be clear out. I think about the politics, what what’s in there, why it’s put together the way it is.
And why some things are soft pedal well, and whenever anybody says, you know, look, this isn’t the time for politics and then hands you, and then does a press conference or releases a report. Yeah. You know, you kind of gotta say, okay. Yeah, we need to. Yeah. And I, and I think that’s, you know, you know, we just need to move past that.
I think that’s almost, yeah. I mean, I think that is something that we just, you know, I mean, I it’s in everybody’s interest to call bullshit. Right. You know, in every opportunity you can and an even handed clear eye way, but you know, to say, you know, yeah. I mean sort of anytime somebody says, oh, Hey, like this is not the time for politics.
You know, make sure you reach for your wallet. Right. Exactly. You know, to say the least. So, you know, I think what we ought to do is, you know, we ought. You know, I, I wanna fly a couple things that you added in the notes that didn’t make it into the piece. And, you know, one thing I think we need to come back to, and then I’m very interested.
We don’t, the data now are as of yet, it’s too soon. It’s too indecisive. Yeah. Or it’s too early to yeah. To be, to be definite, but you know, attitudes towards police on this are very, are gonna be very interesting. I mean, after several years now of a police debate about policing being framed one way, this is a very different frame.
This is a very different frame. And. Curious about the degree to which this will have any durable effects, if they are what it will be. I’m skeptical. so am so am I, um, color me skeptical? Yeah. Uh, you know, and I am too, but I mean, I think the timing, cuz I, I think the number, you know, and in terms of the save on fave, as I recall between our June poll, that the numbers you coded for were Tual the police were 52, 28 Fon fave.
Yep. Um, you know, the, the, you know, they ticked downward a little bit. Yeah. Not a lot. I think it was four, six points, something like that. Maybe. Yeah. I have to go back and look, you know, in that, in that range. So that’s why I’m, you know, being very careful here. And if you look at the four or five times, we’ve asked about favorability the police, there’s not a cl you know, it moves, it jumps around to two events.
I mean, I think, and, and a little bit, but you know, but it’s an interesting dynamic that we are in right now. Mm-hmm. that, you know, and there’s a couple of different dimensions here, cuz there’s the level of government dimension mm-hmm , you know, and then there’s the P you know, the, the policing as a, you know, attitude towards the police, as an institution dimension, and then there’s, and there’s also, I say the broader sort of, you know, uh, institutions wri large dimension, right.
Which are all kind of taking hits and, um, , you know, there’s something very, kind of interesting going on with that. And just, you know, in, in, in, in terms of just the immediate trade offs and the, you know, the, you know, the mercenary part of politics, mm-hmm in which if you’re looking at blaming the police or S or blaming policies that you as a candidate in 2022 might have to own in some way, right.
guess who gets blamed yeah, that’s true. And. You know, that may, that may well not be durable, but I mean, you know, it’s interesting to see. And lemme just say what I mean, I mean, is you see Republican incumbents tapping into purposefully necessarily conveniently, necessarily ACC, you know, I, you knows.
Tapping into what one can recognize as you know, an alwa you know, uh, the, you know, we’ve talked about this before, but an interesting kind of cross currency attitudes about the police. Cause on one hand we see evidence of lots of reflexive, refl, respect, regard for authority order, etcetera, particularly in Texas.
We also see in other kinds of ways, a skeptical. A, a skepticism and a reflexive like, oh, you know, get off my back, man. Yeah. And Republicans tend to tap into. The respectful part of that much more than they do the anti-authority part of that. But it seems to have suited them at this point to, well, but I mean, in a way, you know, and the other dimension there is the local, you know, level well thing, but it’s an interesting piece of this that I think, you know, merits watching.
Yeah. I agree. I mean, it’s, I agree with you. I don’t think it’s gonna be durable, but I mean, you know, oh, been wrong before. No, but I think, I think what I’d agree with this is then I’ll. Wrap up my thing. I mean, it, it suits them right now. And the question is, you know, Who, who is the one who receives, you know, the bulk of the iron man, they’ve done their best to really focus it on.
Aradondo focus it on the locals. You know, I’m curious to see what happens with McCraw and all this. You know, I mean, when, when push comes to shove, he went up in front of the Senate and, you know, look, I don’t, he doubled down. It was, it was borderline performative. And I don’t believe, I’m not saying he doesn’t hold the views that he held, you know, probably very strongly about the police response there, but ultimately, you know, he was casting a lot of blame and it’s hard not to look at this and think about, you know, the winter storm and all of a sudden, you know, everybody in that small room is gone.
Yeah. Right. So, I mean, one that’s kind of what I’m seeing is, you know, how, how far. You know, does the water edge move? The other thing is, you know, this is related to that, you know, to me, what’s really interesting. It kind of cuts through the report in some ways is, is what the level of focus is in the report.
And to me, it’s, if you really think, what is this report about? It’s about what happened in the hallway. It’s about what happened in the school and it’s about the attacker. And then it talks in sort of passing terms about systemic. Issues, but really, you know, systemic and name only. And one of the things about kind of this is, you know, ultimately whatever, you know, individual issues, you know, that they’re pointing to, whether they’re pointing to, you know, you know, the infrastructure and the stuff in the school that could have been any school in Texas.
I mean, like there are a lot of schools that have. Poor security. And it’s gonna be very expensive if, you know, if we’re gonna fix that. And maybe with the compt controllers, updating of the revenue estimates that could ha some of that could happen. Maybe there’ll be some leftover after the property tax reduction, maybe.
So, um, but you know, you say like there’s all these systemic problems. It’s like, okay, well, are you gonna focus on those? Response of DPS, are you gonna focus on, you know, the, the age of the infrastructure of the public school system in Texas of the idea is that we’re going to, you know, have to harden all these schools.
You know, if we are kind of worried about, you know, the nature of young men being isolated on the internet and having easy access to weapons, and we’re gonna ignore that last part, but young men being isolated on the internet and lashing out, that’s a big problem. generally, what is the state gonna do about that?
Right. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t really think that the state is, you know, I would say, you know, shown it’s either equipped for or interested in really addressing. And these are all these kind of things on this. Yeah, systemic edge of it. But if we can just, you know, this is where the political things, but if we can just focus this down to what happened in this particular school, on this particular day with this particular police chief.
Yeah. And this particular shooter, it becomes much more manageable of a situation. Yeah. There’s a there’s I think you’re right. I think there’s a real tension there. And I think that, um, yeah, I think that’s a good point. And I think that, um, you know, the, you know, what that, what that points to is. You know, a very common phenomena that we see in politics, particularly with issues.
you know, that are particularly salient and politically fraught mm-hmm . And that is, you know, as you talk about, you know, possible solutions, you know, a lot of that depends on your ability to define the problem in your own terms. Mm-hmm and we are that, that’s what we’re in the middle of, on this right now.
Yeah, exactly. So, uh, and it’s, and it’s, and it’s fraud and I, you know, and I, you know, and I think it’s, you know, Take an editorial moment. Like, you know, the old TV casters at the end would say now a editorial comment. I mean, I, you know, I,
on one hand, as I’ve said earlier, you know, we can’t be shocked that politics are entering into something that is this important in this salient mm-hmm, in an election year. On the other hand, you know, it, it is going to be terrible if we can’t have a. Comprehensive real conversation about this. Well, and I mean, I’ll just say I like my skepticism about the durability, you know?
Yeah. No, and there’s very little evidence that we can no, and I think that’s right. And that’s, you know, so I guess that’s the comment is can willing. Is that, you know, this is, you know, this is terrible, which is probably why I stood at my desk last night for four hours. And my legs hurt today, you know, going through this and working on it.
But, um, we will post some more, uh, you know, more comprehensive data on this. Maybe if we, if I can think of a way to do it, there were some things I didn’t. Put in the already long post on this, but you know, some more check out the post though. So more of the, yeah, check out the post. Um, I say with all humility, um, I thanks to Josh for being here.
Uh, thanks to our excellent production team in the audio studio in the liberal arts development studio at UT Austin. Thank you for listening. And remember, you can find all the data we’ve referenced today. Much, much more at the Texas politics project website. That’s Texas politics dot U, texas.edu. And we’ll be back soon with another second reading podcast.
The second reading podcast is a production of the Texas politics project at the university of Texas at Austin.