Uvalde School District Board Fires Police Chief Pete Arredondo
Under mounting pressure from parents and survivors of a deadly elementary school shooting in which 19 children were killed by a gunman, Uvalde school district has fired police chief Pete Arredondo. On Wednesday night, the board unanimously voted to dismiss Arredondo.
According to widely-taught guidelines, police officers in an active shooter situation should assume the incident commander role quickly. But in the chaotic aftermath of the massacre, a group of experts questioned if Arredondo retreated too far from his initial duties and led to a flawed response.
Early Life and Education
Arredondo was raised in Uvalde, a town of about 15,000 people in Texas’ Hill Country. After graduating high school, he pursued a career in law enforcement – first with the Uvalde Police Department and later as chief of police for Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.
The former police chief was also a decorated veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserve, having served during both the Gulf War and in Iraq. Nowadays he works as an assistant professor of criminology at University of Texas in Austin.
On the day after the shooting, Arredondo spoke to investigators and expressed his desire to save students in other classrooms rather than trying to stop a gunman who had already shot children and teachers. This decision remained unchanged for over an hour even after it became evident that children were trapped – injured and dead alike – inside the building with the gunman.
George Arredondo has had a remarkable professional journey that began as a cattle rancher in his hometown of Coolidge. After serving as police officer in Uvalde, he returned home and founded the Coolidge school district’s police department.
Arredondo, as police chief of the school district, has come under scrutiny for his response to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary that left 19 children and two teachers dead. The killings are being investigated by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo defended his initial response to the shooting. He insisted he was the first officer on scene; however, experts have since challenged this assertion.
Achievements and Honors
George Arredondo has had an illustrious and varied career, culminating in his distinguished military service. Currently, he serves on the Coolidge Unified School District’s Governing Board.
Before his career in federal government, he worked as an educator and manager. As associate administrator for operations and management with the United States Department of Agriculture, he served as state executive director during President Clinton’s tenure in Arizona.
He is the recipient of numerous honors and accolades, most recently being named UCSC Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholar and receiving an Excellence in Teaching Award from Academic Senate 2014. Additionally, his research accomplishments across sciences and arts have been recognized.
Arredondo’s professional life has been one of extensive and varied accomplishments. He has extensive experience in federal and local leadership positions.
He served as an associate administrator of the Farm Service Agency and state executive director for Arizona Food Service Authority. Additionally, he had a 32-year enlisted career in the Navy as a master chief petty officer, earning numerous awards and honors along the way.
On the scene of the Uvalde shooting, he was the first police officer to enter the building. But as events progressed, he quickly abandoned his radio – his primary communication tool – and any key that might unlock a possible unlocked door for entry.
Costa Rican-American peace activist who was present during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and among the first to help victims. He helped Jeff Bauman, who had both legs amputated and was losing blood rapidly, into a wheelchair.
Arredondo’s net worth is believed to be at least $5 million. Additionally, he serves as Director of the American Red Cross.
He volunteers his time to suicide groups, attending sessions to try to change the system and help those at risk of taking their lives. By working to alter laws to prevent suicides and working with elected officials on improving servicemen and women’s mental health, he hopes to make a difference in people’s lives.