News4JAX on Friday spoke with a former school resource officer in Northeast Florida following the deadly mass shooting this week at an elementary school in Texas.
Also on Friday, authorities said that nearly 20 officers stood for about 45 minutes in the hallway outside the adjoining classrooms in Uvalde where the gunman killed students and teachers on Tuesday before U.S. Border Patrol agents unlocked the door to confront and kill him.
At least some of the 911 calls made during the attack on Robb Elementary School came from inside the connected classrooms where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos was holed up, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a contentious news conference.
The commander at the scene believed Ramos was barricaded inside and that the children were not at risk, McCraw said.
“It was the wrong decision. Period,” he said. “There were 19 officers in there, plenty of officers to do whatever needed to be done with one exception -- the incident commander inside believed there needed to be more tactical equipment.”
The Border Patrol agents eventually used a master key to open the locked door of the classroom where they confronted and killed Ramos, he said.
McCraw also said that contrary to earlier statements by officials, a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived. When that officer did respond, he unknowingly drove past Ramos, who was crouched behind a car parked outside and firing at the building, McCraw said.
The former school resource officer who News4JAX talked with on Friday said she doesn’t know exactly what happened in the situation in Texas, but there must be a team effort to minimize destruction.
The woman, who News4JAX is not naming, was a school resource officer in two local continues for 13 years.
“There was a time, I believe, when being a resource officer literally meant you were just, ‘Officer Friendly,’ you know,” she said. “You just went around and made the kids feel comfortable.”
She said, in her time, the job has changed into something much more serious.
“You’re not just walking around, you know, shaking hands and being friends anymore,” she said. “You’re literally looking out for, you know, a shooter.”
She credits the state of Florida for its attention to protecting children at school following a mass shooting in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. She said she thinks other states should mimic the way Florida has moved to protect children at schools.
News4JAX asked her what she thinks went wrong in the response in Texas.
“I just think that training has to prevail,” she said. “We just have to remember, you know, what we’re taught, and that training has to kick in, so that you will, you know, instead of it escalating to step four or five, you stop it at step one.”
And while she said she doesn’t know exactly what happened in Uvalde, the thought of school shootings is something that school resources officers can’t avoid.
“Well, maybe 20 years ago, you wouldn’t think it,” she said. “But now, every single day, when an officer that works in a school gets dressed for work and goes there, that’s what they think about.”
She said their presence and even more officers at schools could make a difference in preventing more shootings.