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Commentary: Law enforcement officer is fired amid lost lives of students and teachers in Uvalde

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Commentary: Law enforcement officer is fired amid lost lives of students and teachers in Uvalde
August 31
12:53 2022

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

“Save The Children” was a popular song by music legend, Marvin Gaye. It was a big hit in the 1970s. Now in a strange way, this song rings true today.

There is a responsibility that all of us must keep our children safe. Historically, schools, homes and places of worship have been safe places for them. You just don’t equate killings with these places. Going to school was an enlightening experience. We saw our friends and our teachers provided us with instruction. Our parents had no anxiety or fear about sending us there.

Isn’t that the way it should be?

Kids and parents shouldn’t have to worry about mayhem and confusion. That sounds incomprehensible to think that a child could go to school and be harmed.

As we know, that is what happened on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas. An armed gunman walked into Robb Elementary School and killed 19 students and two teachers.

Could this tragedy have been avoided?

There are multiple answers to this question. School critics and pundits have their opinions. It is the response to the shooting that has the Uvalde community up in arms.

Upon learning that a shooter was at the school, the systems were activated. Law enforcement arrived and were ready to move in on the target. The moving in on the target portion is where the system was compromised.

This is my opinion and the opinion of others who have been keen observers of this event.

May 24, 2022, should have been just another school day for the district’s students and teachers. It wasn’t.

Last week Uvalde police chief, Pete Arredondo was fired. He oversaw the police response on that day. The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board of education voted to void his contract immediately.

Reports say that there were 376 law enforcement officers at the school on that day, all supposedly with Mr. Arredondo in charge. The non-actions of law enforcement were squarely on the shoulders of the former police chief.

The firing of former chief Arredondo was contentious. Brett Cross, the uncle and guardian of one of the slain children, at a school board meeting in July said, “Stand with us or against us, because we ain’t going nowhere.”

Parents and supporters of the victims have been upset about how the process has played out. Some of the meetings involving Arrendondo’s termination were held in executive session or canceled.

However, the former chief still maintains that he did nothing wrong or inappropriate.

His lawyer, George Hyde, wrote in a statement, “Chief Arredondo is a leader and a courageous officer who with all of the other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene should be celebrated for the lives saved, instead of vilified for those they couldn’t reach in time.”

School systems are now more than ever on the alert for incidents of all kinds that will threaten the lives of students and teachers. Now, because of what has been occurring, school districts have employed grief and family counselors to console grief-stricken family members. Police and security personnel are more visible in and around schools. Increased and improved surveillance is now commonplace in today’s schools.

The same is true with colleges and universities across America. They, too, have stepped up their security forces for students living both on and off campus.

These are the times that we are living in during this period in our country. Will these times change and get better? That’s a good question with no good answer now.

I never thought I would live to see the day when police and schools would go together.

Yet, here I am, as schools and police do go together.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at overtimefergie.2020@nullyahoo.com.

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