Switching Uvalde Account Not Surprising, Says Professor TCU | Education

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A school resource officer engaged with the shooter outside an elementary school in Uvalde last week. Then there was none.

A teacher left a back door open. Then she didn’t.

“It could have been worse,” Gov. Greg Abbott said, praising the work of local and state law enforcement. Then, it was learned that 77 minutes passed while children remained alive in the classroom, before the police intervened.

Missteps, miscommunication and misinformation continue to further frustrate the public as they grapple with the news of another tragic mass shooting and search for answers to what happened.

The timeline has changed several times since May 24, when a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killing 19 students and two teachers. And it is top state leaders in government and law enforcement, once considered the most trusted sources, who make and then backtrack on contradictory statements.

While it’s proven frustrating for those demanding responses, Johnny Nhan, associate dean of graduate studies in the Department of Criminal Justice at Texas Christian University, said it’s not uncommon, especially in small communities with strengths. even smaller fonts.

“(Misinformation) is quite common in small police departments and agencies because they don’t have a public information office,” Nhan said. “Especially with multiple agencies, if they don’t establish who is going to say what, then different stories or information are being put out by different people, and it’s not always accurate.”

Gov. Greg Abbott said last week he was “livid” that the information given to him and repeated to the public turned out to be inaccurate.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin also had a public dispute over the accuracy of the information provided, with Patrick telling Fox News that state officials ‘didn’t tell the truth. ” on the calendar. McLaughlin fired back saying Patrick’s accusations were The two later issued public statements acknowledging the misinterpretations and again showing a united front.

Nhan said he believed that in Uvalde’s case, the misinformation was exacerbated by the high-profile status of the story and the number of state and local agencies that joined the investigation to piece together what happened. happened that day.

“It’s just a chaotic situation. In that case, I might see different information coming out as not being accurate,” he said.

Uvalde is a predominantly Hispanic town in southern Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio. It has a population of around 16,000 and is often described as a “close-knit” community.

While police forces make up a large percentage of the city’s annual budget – 40% – this is also common in smaller communities where they are not configured to provide extensive social services that larger cities provide.

In a statement, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, also pointed to the drastic training differences between urban and rural communities in Texas.

“While our major cities and urban counties have ample resources and state-of-the-art training, our rural areas are suffering,” he said, adding that he supported the independent investigation into the incident and the further responses currently in progress.

“This false information has exacerbated ill-informed speculation, which has, in turn, created a hotbed of unreliability when it comes to finding the truth. The truth we can all trust,” he said. “For this reason, we believe that a robust and independent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice with the assistance of the FBI will uncover what really happened, helping agencies around the world understand how to prevent at best that a similar aggravated tragedy does not happen again”.

Nhan said that while he believed the tragedy would draw many public relations lessons, he recognized that even larger urban communities with their vast resources can still struggle with conflicting information in times of crisis and are still in the process of coping. learn and establish best practices.

Without dedicated resources, it is difficult to expect smaller agencies to achieve consistency, especially since the nature of ongoing investigations often results in timeline changes, he added.

Nonetheless, he said one way to combat misinformation without excessive costs is to establish a single source of information that also develops strong relationships with the media, the public and other government departments and agencies – a source that gives as much accurate information as possible as soon as possible. to appease information seekers, so that they do not turn to other less precise means, but also so as not to hinder the investigation in progress.

“Have the human relationships in place so that when something happens, it’s not a jam; there is a voice, a narrative,” Nhan said. “Establish a relationship between the different departments before the crisis.”

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