Uvalde Police Department — Suspended

Remember the police department in Uvlade, Texas that stayed outside of Robb Elementary school for well over an hour while a gunman killed nineteen students and two teachers while wounding seventeen others?

Suspended. The entire police force. To that, I say, bravo. I like this move.

As a tax-paying citizen, you cannot and should not have the daily reminder of incompetence staring you in the face as an individual and a community.

I understand that law enforcement works differently than other sectors. There’s a rigid, structured chain of command where individuals give and receive orders that may preserve life. I continue to struggle with the Uvalde police department’s lack of response to the May 24, 2022 shooting.

What happened at Robb Elementary was not a scene from a Michael Mann or Tarantino movie where cops take cover behind vehicles and buildings while the bad guys lay heavy gunfire from the inside of a crime scene. This was the inverse.

The eighteen-year-old gunman was inside slaughtering mostly kids and adults while the cops were outside.

Maybe there’s an argument from the cop's point of view that they didn’t enter because they were following orders. I don’t know how strong of an argument that is.

You would think that at some point, someone that held a gun and badge would say “F*** this, I’m going in.”

Let’s swap out the circumstances and players with the Uvalde scenario.

Instead of a lone gunman inside, imagine there being a growing fire at an elementary school or some large boat holding school-aged kids and staff that was sinking. Can you imagine members of the fire department or perhaps the Coast Guard watching these tragedies develop as human beings die one by one?

You have to imagine what the Uvalde police department symbolizes for these parents, school staff, and people in the community. Based on the anger, protests, and calls for dismissal, they symbolize incompetence, weakness, and cowardice.

Perhaps even more critical is what they may symbolize to criminals and God-forbid, future gunmen contemplating this horrific crime.

I was raised around criminals and my guess is that after that fatal day at Robb Elementary, criminals had a newfound perception of that police department and it can be summed up in one word — soft.

Being soft is the one thing a law enforcement officer and/or department cannot be. Criminals will see that as an opportunity to break the law with impunity. Citizens will probably feel a greater sense of helplessness and vulnerability.

How could anyone in Uvlade make a 9–1–1 call during an intense, dangerous situation with confidence that reliable help is on the way?

The no-brainer in this is that the police chief and other senior officers have no place to hold a job in law enforcement. Then a thorough review of the other cops down the chain of command should be vetted thoroughly.

Protection is what cops are supposed to do. If a police officer can’t be relied upon to neutralize violent threats against citizens, then who?

Back in my twenties, I had a few peers that entered careers as first responders. Not me. I knew I wasn’t fit. I wasn’t willing to walk into the teeth of danger during a brewing crisis. This explains why I didn’t bother applying for a job in law enforcement.

If there was an apartment building set ablaze, I’d be happy to drive the big truck to the scene and turn on the fire hydrant, but that’s where I draw the line. So again, I didn’t bother putting in an application as a fireman. Any law enforcement and fire department worth their salt would have known immediately that I was full of s**t and unfit for either role.

So, my question to those senior and junior-level cops is this: What did you think the job was about when you signed up? Did you ever get any type of training for hostage situations, mass shooters, or terrorism? If so, can you explain the failure to respond to the shooter in a meaningful manner?

Guns and badges aren’t ornaments or props. They have a functional purpose. It has historically represented people that will uphold and protect the rule of law. Should there be an escalating threat, here’s my gun. I will lawfully use my gun to protect myself and/or others. Period.

Imani Kaliid is a Los Angeles native, host of “Survivor Stories: From Pain to Power” (Roku TV, Amazon Fire), author of “There Was Violence” and advocate for victims of violent trauma. Follow him on Twitter: @SurvivorImaniK

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Author of “There Was Violence”, Host of “Survivor Stories: From Pain to Power”, survivor and advocate for victims of violent trauma.

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Imani Kaliid

Author of “There Was Violence”, Host of “Survivor Stories: From Pain to Power”, survivor and advocate for victims of violent trauma.