Calls are growing for the resignation of Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. McCraw and his agency are under pressure to take responsibility for their inaction during a shooting earlier this year at a Uvalde elementary school.
Two teachers and 19 students were murdered by the lone killer, while more than 370 law enforcement officers from agencies waited outside for more than an hour to take action.
Of the responders, 149 were U.S. Border Patrol, 91 were state troopers, 25 were Uvalde police officers, 16 were sheriff’s deputies, five were from the school’s police force. The rest were from neighboring law enforcement, U.S. marshals, and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers.
Months after the tragedy, Democrat state officials and families of the victims are calling DPS a failure for their inaction and requesting the removal or resignation of DPS officers.
“You have disgraced the state, your position, and the people,” Brett Cross, father of a 10-year-old victim, told McCraw during a meeting of the DPS Public Safety Commission. “Well, Steve, the time is now. If you’re a man of your word, you’ll resign. We’re not waiting any longer.”
Now Republican U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (TX-23) has joined the Democratic state officials, including State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D–Uvalde) and gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, in calling for McCraw’s resignation.
DPS Director McCraw should RESIGN immediately. https://t.co/s2jqrEr1RV
— Tony Gonzales (@TonyGonzales4TX) October 27, 2022
“DPS failed on May 24. It failed to take control of a dangerous situation. It failed to neutralize an ongoing threat. It failed in the aftermath of the shooting by not following normal triage protocols with the injured. It failed in the days following the massacre by giving false information that was easily provably false. And it’s failing today by continuing to not disclose all the information that is important to us today, and dribbling out again, sanctions against low-level cops, officers, troopers, when in fact we need to look at the people that were supervising those people and the people that were making decisions,” said Gutierrez.
In response to the claims that DPS was a failure of an institution, McCraw said the “law enforcement response was an ‘abject failure,’” and that every responding officer is being evaluated.
— Texas DPS (@TxDPS) July 12, 2022
“Every responding officer needs to be accountable for their actions,” said McCraw. “When did they arrive? What were they told? What did they know? And then what did they do? Plain and simple. And I don’t care how high it goes. All those things are important.”
“If DPS as an institution failed the families, failed the school, or failed the community of Uvalde, then, absolutely, I need to go. But I can tell you this right now: DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community—plain and simple,” McGraw added.
Instead of resigning, McCraw explained that he believes “every responding officer needs to be accountable for their actions.” Following this announcement, McCraw launched investigations into individual officers, as well as the massacre in general, to determine how they can better prepare for such situations.
Since the tragedy at the Uvalde elementary school, Sgt. Juan Maldonado, one of the first and most senior troopers to respond, was fired by authorities. At least five other troopers are currently under investigation for potential misconduct during the massacre.
While some officials and citizens are calling for McCraw’s resignation, others are calling for him to be held accountable but remain in his position and fix the issue.
“Director McGraw needs to stay and correct the problem,” one citizen tweeted in response to Gonzales. “That is the military way. DPS structure is based on the military. McGraw needs to train/retrain his troops and himself. A new face with no familiarity with the troops nor definition of the problem is not the answer.”