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Press Release

Readout of Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s Meeting with Uvalde Families

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

On Wednesday April 26, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta traveled to Uvalde, Texas, where she and members of the Critical Incident Review team from the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) met with families and community members to hear from them and provide an update on the department’s review of the law enforcement response to the horrific mass shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last May. Earlier in the day, she also met with the mayor.

In the days following the tragedy in Uvalde, the mayor reached out to the Justice Department seeking an independent after-action review. In response to the mayor’s request and in order to provide the families and community members of Uvalde the full accounting they deserve, the department has been conducting a Critical Incident Review of the law enforcement, school, victim services, and other stakeholders’ response to the incident, which will culminate in a written report to be delivered in the next few months. The goal of the review is to provide (1) an independent account of law enforcement and other stakeholder actions and responses; (2) identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events; and (3) provide a roadmap for community safety before, during, and after such incidents. This review is consistent with the COPS Office’s Collaborative Reform Initiative and is not a criminal or civil investigation.

Progress Made in the Department’s Review   

Since the department officially launched the review on June 8, 2022, a team from the department’s COPS Office has been working closely with ten subject-matter experts with extensive experience in emergency management and active shooter response, school safety, incident command and management, tactical operations, officer safety and wellness, and victim and family support. The review team is examining policies, training, communications, deployment and incident command, tactics, and practices as they relate to preparing for and responding to active shooter events, as well as the post-incident response, including a review of survivor and victim and family support and resources.

In the course of their work thus far, the review  team has visited Uvalde nine times, and has spent a total of 30 days there over the past 11 months. They have conducted, viewed, or participated in interviews of over 200 individuals, from more than 30 organizations and agencies, including personnel from the law enforcement agencies involved in the response to the mass shooting, as well as other first responders and medical personnel; family members; victim services providers; communications professionals and public information officers; school personnel; government officials; witnesses; and hospital staff. The team has collected and is analyzing almost 13,000 pieces of evidence, including policies, procedures and training materials from the responding agencies; manuals; many hours of video; photographs; interview transcripts; and other materials relevant to the review. The team has also conducted walkthroughs of Robb Elementary School and observed multiple active-shooter training sessions and meets regularly as a full group and in sub-teams on different topic areas in preparing the forthcoming written report.

Extensive, detailed reviews such as this one take time, and the department is committed to taking that time to provide an accurate and detailed examination of the events, as well as guidance to other agencies and communities moving forward. The department will make its full findings and recommendations publicly available at the completion of the review, which is expected in the coming months.

Resources to Support the Uvalde Community

During the Wednesday meeting, Department of Justice leadership also shared with families and community members that, in advance of the one-year commemoration next month, the Justice Department is offering additional technical assistance and support to the Uvalde community. These additional resources are designed to help the community and local government prepare for and manage the time around the one-year mark, including: (1) intentional and systematic trauma therapy for victims and families, school district staff, and first responders; (2) appropriate, victim-centered, trauma-informed crisis communications; and (3) assistance with operations and planning for large gatherings. The COPS Office will be coordinating with the department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) on counseling and trauma related services.

In addition to these new resources, OVC has been providing no cost expert mass violence training and technical assistance to the Uvalde community, and in October 2022, the COPS Office awarded the Uvalde Independent School District a grant through the School Violence Prevention Program, which includes funding for security training, secured doors and protective gear for law enforcement.

Updated April 26, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-482