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Polk Sheriff calls Uvalde police response "unequivocally unacceptable"

Sheriff Grady Judd calls Uvalde police response "unequivocally unacceptable"
Posted at 10:34 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 23:17:49-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Law enforcement response in Uvalde, Texas is being criticized by agencies across the United States. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw called the chief of police's decision to wait for tactical reinforcement "the wrong decision" in an update on Friday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held a press conference of his own, Friday afternoon, in response to the latest details in the timeline that led up to the death of 19 children and two teachers inside Robb Elementary, this week.

"The doors weren’t locked and he was in the school for an hour before they neutralized the threat," Judd said. "That is unacceptable."

McCraw told reporters in Uvalde it was at least an hour before responding officers shot and killed the 18-year-old shooter.

Judd blames the tactical mistake on a lack of officer training and, in his mind, not enough of an armed presence at the Uvalde school.

"We prepare every day for the thought that there may be an active shooter," he said.

That mindset grew out of tragedy in Parkland, Florida more than four years ago. In 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Shortly after, U.S. Congress passed the Stop School Violence Act to install safety measures and buff security at schools.

Polk County Schools and the sheriff's office used funds to train and hire 90 'guardians' to protect students from the threat of an active shooter. 'Guardians' are any school personnel or county residents who undergo at least 144 hours of training by the sheriff's office.

"Given the choice of being shot and killed on the ground or those children dying, we'll die every time," Judd said.

Since Polk Schools started the trend, 44 of Florida's 67 counties have followed suit. It is a response to violence Ryan Petty wishes his daughter Alaina had as a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He wishes the same for 21 families in Uvalde.

“All of those kids and those teachers might be alive today and law enforcement could’ve addressed that threat outside of that school building, outside of that classroom," Petty said.

A law enforcement failure he hopes does not cost another parent their child.

"My heart goes out to those parents," Petty said. "I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Couldn’t believe it.”