Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered school safety officials on Wednesday to start conducting “in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits” at school districts across the state in the wake of last week’s massacre in Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed.
“Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped,” Abbott wrote in the letter to Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University.
“This will help determine if schools are prepared to implement and follow the [emergency operation plans] they have already submitted to the state,” Abbott wrote. “This will improve accountability and ensure school districts are following the plans they create.”
The response to last week’s shooting at Robb Elementary School has come under increased scrutiny in recent days.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw initially said that a teacher left a side door propped open, which is how Ramos got into the school, but officials corrected themselves on Tuesday by saying that the door was actually closed, just not locked.
Officials also initially said that a school resource officer confronted Ramos as he tried to enter the school, but later said the officer was off campus and drove by the suspect while responding to the scene.
Law enforcement officers were on the scene just minutes after the suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school and started firing shots, but they didn’t breach the classroom and kill him until over an hour had lapsed.
The incident commander at the scene, Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo, had undergone an active shooter training in December that instructs law enforcement officers on how to differentiate “an active shooter event and a hostage or barricade crisis.”
Despite that, McCraw said that Arredondo made the “wrong decision” not to immediately confront the shooter.
Abbott also asked House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the senate, to both form special legislative committees that can take “meaningful action” on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, and firearm safety.
Lt. Gov. Patrick said the senate committee will hold their first hearing on June 23 in order to give the Uvalde community time to grieve.