OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – The decisions made by police in Uvalde, Texas are drastically different from how officers reacted during the Oxford High School shooting.
The murders of 19 children and 2 teachers in the elementary school Texas reopened the wound for many in Oakland County, including sheriff Mike Bouchard.
“Well, obviously it brought everybody from Oxford and the whole community and region right back to that most terrible of days,” Bouchard said.
In Uvalde, the students repeatedly called 911 during the attack, including one who pleaded, “Please send the police now.” Officers were already there, they waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes before the shooter was confronted.
The commander at the scene believed the gunman was barricaded inside the classrooms and that children were no longer at risk, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said
'Our job is to go in without delay, locate, and neutralize an active shooter'
But what he found sickening, as he did in the Parkland, Florida shooting, was how officers didn’t immediately breach the school to neutralize the shooter.
“There’s two professions that sign up and know they could be a target of a bullet -- police and military. And I told our people after Parkland, before Oxford, if you’re not up to that task now’s the time to make that decision and find another job,” Bouchard said. “It’s very clear in our orders that if we have an active shooter and you get there first, you’re going in and if I get there first, I’m going in but we’re going in. No one’s going to delay, no one’s going to wait and if he’s inside of a room we’re gonna get in that room one way or another. And that includes running a patrol car into a building if we have to.”
In the case of Oxford, deputies arrived a few minutes after the first shots were fired and they went right in. Moments later they confronted the 15-year-old accused shooter and he surrendered. Police believe had they waited, many more people would have died.
“He had 18 live rounds and I’m convinced, in Oxford High School, he would have fired -- based on some of the manifesto things that I’ve seen. He was gonna fire every bullet,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard said before we make any new laws, lawmakers need to seal up cracks in the current gun laws.
Bouchard released the following letter on Feb. 23, 2018 after 17 were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school:
“Sheriff’s Office Personnel -
I am sure we were all sickened and dismayed when we heard the news regarding the Broward County Deputy who was on scene at the Florida school shooting and stayed outside as the shooting rampage occurred. I want to be clear on my expectations. If we arrive on a similar scene our job is to go in without delay, locate, and neutralize an active shooter. I will either go in first, by your side, or at your six depending on our arrival times. Regardless, I will be going in. This is not the time to question whether or not this job choice is for you. There are many ways people can help other people in this world, but if they are not up to the demands of the moment they need to find other ways to make a difference and leave police work now.
Today’s challenges are not getting any easier and neither is our job. However, we stand on the Thin Blue Line and face those threats head-on. In these moments, we must not only be the best trained and best equipped, but unwavering in our willingness to face any threat.
Stay safe, stay vigilant, and be ready. I stand with you.