Rep. Burrows, Lubbock ISD trustee discuss district’s safety after Uvalde investigation

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 11:17 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock State Representative Dustin Burrows spoke with area parents Tuesday evening about the state House investigation into the Robb Elementary School shooting in May. He shared his findings and a Lubbock ISD trustee explained the district’s preparation to keep students safe.

The public meeting was hosted by the Lubbock Chapter of the Republic National Hispanic Assembly at the Holiday Inn Lubbock south location. Before getting into the findings, Rep. Burrows shared some of his experiences while conducting the investigation over the summer in Uvalde, including meeting one of the victim’s father.

“I’ll never forget the look on his face, and when I say it’s indescribable, I mean it’s indescribable. I don’t know that there are words to describe the pain and anger and sorrow and mixture on those people’s faces and he wasn’t the only one in that community that felt that way,” he said.

Burrows led the State House investigation into the shooting and the response from law enforcement. State leaders praised that preliminary report as a reference for new policies when it comes to school security and law enforcement.

“That morning in Uvalde, the schools, the ISD, the police forces, felt they had checked all the boxes and that they were prepared for an attack,” Burrows said.

He says after 70 interviews with school administrators, police officers, and more, it was evident Robb Elementary had a false sense of security. He told Lubbock parents about how the report criticizes the schools’ security protocols and the condition the building was in. But, he says law enforcement deserves the bulk of the criticism. While officers didn’t tell him this, he feels they were waiting for a bigger agency to come along and handle the situation.

“I don’t know that they really felt comfortable in the capacity and I think they may have been too macho to tell anybody that they were not understanding of what to do, and they thought you know what, we know DPS and BORTAC - BORTAC is the tactical command of Border Patrol. I mean these guys are the best of the best, they thought one of those two, either DPS or BORTAC tactical would be here and once they got here they would take over, break down the door and take care of what needs to be done, and I think they were waiting,” Burrows said.

Those findings led the committee to policies that need to be addressed. Burrows says those include building safety standards, having highly-trained security personnel on every campus, new technology, and random threat assessments. He says the state also needs to address truancy laws. Staff, students, and parents need to be better about reporting suspicious activity or behavior so students don’t fall through the cracks. He says he will probably file a bill this week that would force all law enforcement agencies as a whole to be accredited through the state. Some at the public meeting wanted to make sure the policies in Lubbock were solid and that Lubbock ISD officers would know what to do.

“I think all of that’s great, but does the LISD police know that if there’s an active shooter, the first one that gets in, goes in there and stops it, do they know that?” one attendee said.

Lubbock ISD trustee Lala Chavez responded to their concern.

“Chief Mendoza is our chief and he’s phenomenal. Not only does he know that, but he’s a retired police officer for the City of Lubbock,” Chavez said.

Chavez addressed what the district has done since the shooting, and what had already begun years ago, to make sure students are safe. She says that includes requiring identification before anyone enters a school building, the school’s Standard Response Protocol, and bullying and suicide prevention.

She says the district had 7 safety audits after the shooting, resulting in 6 with no findings and one with an interior door locked and open. She also mentioned several grants the district has, and is expecting to address safety features.

One woman praised the response a few months ago at an incident near a Lubbock ISD campus.

“In a matter of minutes, they had every kid back in the building. They had every administrator and teacher back in the building and police literally saturated the area,” she said.

She hopes more families will come to future safety meetings, including the next one on February 16 at Coronado.

“I think that we’re in a good place and believe me, I can always say there’s room for improvement, we’re not perfect. But you know what, we’re in the right direction guys, truly,” Chavez said.