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Stateside Podcast: The police response in Oxford vs. Uvalde

Enough_March for Our Lives
"Enough! (March For Our Lives Rally in D.C.)" by kimmy aoyama is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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After the most recent school massacre at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old shooter armed with an AR-15 killed 19 school children and two teachers, questions started to arise over what police did once they arrived at the school.

The AP reported late Wednesday that many of the parents who also showed up at the school after hearing about the shooting, said the police – despite saying they rushed into the school – went in about four minutes after arriving.

Details are still emerging about the police’s response to the shooting, but it is clear that the shooter was in a classroom with children for about an hour.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that it is the policy of his office and he believes the policy of best practice for officers to enter as soon as they arrive to an active shooter situation.

He said that after the 2018 Parkland Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he sent an agency-wide email telling his employees what his expectations were during active shooter situations.

“If we have an active shooter, and I get there first – I’m going in,” Bouchard said. “If you get there first – I expect you to go in. And if we get there together – we are going in together…No waiting, no calling for additional resources or backup before. Our mission and only focus has to be to seek out and eliminate the threat because every second you pause could be another pull of the trigger and another person injured or killed.”

Bouchard said it was important for him to not only reiterate this expectation every time there is a mass shooting, but to train his deputies and other police agencies to this standard. He said he wants officers to find out how they perform while training for high-stress situations, not during real world situations.

“If they make a mistake, then they can fix it there,” Bouchard said. “If they find out in that stressful moment, ‘This isn’t [for] me,’ well that’s the best place to find out, not in the real world.”

Footage has surfaced from outside of Robb Elementary of parents gathering at the school yelling at law enforcement, urging them to go inside. As for the reputation of law enforcement following a scene like this, Bouchard said he is worried about the public’s confidence in police protection and other law enforcement being shaken.

When asked about whether he had a position on high-powered rifles, such as the AR-15, being in the hands of the general public, Bouchard said he thought situations like the one in Uvalde had more to do with mental health breakdowns than access to weapons.

“I think we need a systematic look at this and include mental health and trigger points that get in front of this, before it's a response to it,” Bouchard said.

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Stateside’s theme music is by 14KT.

Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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Dan Netter joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2022 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying Journalism and Social Relations & Policy.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Radio in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the Summer of 2020.