The incompetent Texas Rangers failed us in Uvalde

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author
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Though nearly 400 law enforcement agents from 23 different agencies responded to the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, it took 77 minutes before any of them breached the classroom where the 18-year-old gunman had already killed 19 fourth graders and two teachers. Since then, almost no one has accepted blame or faced consequences for the delayed response, except for Lt. Mariano Pargas, the acting police chief on the day of the massacre, who resigned on Nov. 18. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has faced widespread demands from victims’ relatives for his resignation, as well, but McCraw blames the on-scene commander for not acting faster. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette argues that McCraw made a promise he should be forced to keep.

Now the angry families of the shooting victims are demanding answers and justice and accountability. They want McCraw to resign just as he promised he would do if any of his officers it turned out had bungled the response to the massacre. 

Well, bumbling was standard operating procedure that day. Yet to date, only one trooper, Juan Maldonado, a Mexican, left holding the bag–surprise–has been fired for inaction during the crisis. 

Sure, others are under investigation. DPS has its own inquiry underway and it promises to present its findings to the Uvalde District Attorney’s office by the end of the year. No suspense there. You don’t have to hold your breath and wonder how this is going to turn out. You can bet that the DPS investigation will point fingers at local cops and leave the agency in the clear for letting all those people die under its watch. 

Meanwhile, McCraw isn’t going anywhere. Yeah, this guy isn’t good at doing his job. But he’s pretty motivated by trying to keep it. 

Quote: “I can tell you this right now,” he said at a hearing in Austin, “DPS, as an institution right now, did not fail the community plain and simple,” end quote. Sure, you want plain and simple, fine. McCraw is a failed law man who should be gone by now. A better man would have owned up to his role in this debacle and turned in his papers. Of course, doing the right thing takes character and courage. And those things are in short supply in Texas law enforcement, at least right now. That includes the Texas Rangers who, it’s sad to say, these days, well, they’re all hat and no cattle.

Remember that saying from the Old West? One riot, one ranger. My father, the Mexican-American career cop who spent 37 years on the job, and who always appreciated a good cowboy movie, he loved that line.

I heard it all the time growing up. It captured the imagination. And it reminded him and the rest of us, that there was one law enforcement agency in all the land that stood head and shoulders above the rest. 

What’s that? You don’t remember the saying? That’s okay, never mind, it doesn’t matter. It no longer applies, anyway.

The modern day Texas Rangers are a far cry from the fable spun by the city folk out there in Hollywood – from the Lone Ranger to Lonesome Dove to Walker, Texas Ranger. See, the rangers of today are bureaucratic and incompetent. They’re the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. They care about their image, and their goal is staying out of harm’s way. They’ve gone from fearless to feckless. 

Just how incompetent the Texas Rangers have become was made clear on May 24, 2022. That’s a day Texas Department of Public Safety Director, Steven McCraw, the Lone Star state’s version of Barney Fife, hopes we all forget. See the day is marred by the colossal failures of his department and his own mediocre leadership. It’s a day that will live in idiocy. 

That’s when 91 of McCraw’s DPS officers, 91, descended upon Robb Elementary School in a small town in Uvalde, Texas after reports that a gunman had entered the school. 

The DPS battalion, which includes Texas Rangers, made up more than a quarter of the 376 law enforcement officers on the scene that day. According to a damning 77-page report issued last summer by the Texas House committee, those officers – a contingent described by the Texas Tribune as quote, a force larger than the garrison that defended the Alamo end quote – spent an hour, a full hour, not doing anything but standing around and checking their phones and waiting for orders. 

That gave 18-year old gunman Salvador Ramos more than enough time to kill 19 children ages nine to 11 and two teachers. All this murder and mayhem took place despite the fact that there were seven different law enforcement agencies on the scene. The small army included not just the 91 DPS agents and state troopers, no, It also included five members of the Uvalde School District Police Department, 149 U.S. Border Patrol agents, 25 officers from the Uvalde police department, 16 deputies from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Department and a spattering of U.S. Marshals and agents with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Now the angry families of the shooting victims are demanding answers and justice and accountability. They want McCraw to resign just as he promised he would do if any of his officers it turned out had bungled the response to the massacre. 

Well, bumbling was standard operating procedure that day. Yet to date, only one trooper, Juan Maldonado, a Mexican, left holding the bag, surprise, has been fired for an action during the crisis. 

Sure, others are under investigation. DPS has its own inquiry underway and it promises to present its findings to the Uvalde District Attorney’s office by the end of the year. No suspense there. You don’t have to hold your breath and wonder how this is going to turn out. You can bet that the DPS investigation will point fingers at local cops and leave the agency in the clear for letting all those people die under its watch. 

Meanwhile, McCraw isn’t going anywhere. Yeah, this guy isn’t good at doing his job. But he’s pretty motivated by trying to keep it. 

Quote, “I can tell you this right now,” he said at a hearing in Austin, “DPS, as an institution right now, did not fail the community plain and simple,” end quote. Sure, you want plain and simple, fine. McCraw is a failed law man who should be gone by now. A better man would have owned up to his role in this debacle and turned in his papers. Of course, doing the right thing takes character and courage. And those things are in short supply in Texas law enforcement, at least right now. That includes the Texas Rangers who, it’s sad to say, these days, well, they’re all hat and no cattle.

 


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