Miyares wants Virginia to learn from missteps in Uvalde, Texas
Attorney General Jason Miyares says law enforcement in Virginia is taking lessons from the bungled response to a May school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 fourth graders and two teachers were killed.
“There were clearly some mistakes made,” Miyares said while addressing reporters at a Virginia School Safety Training Forum in Hampton on Tuesday. “The only thing we can hope for in Virginia is that we learn from those mistakes.”
The Texas house committee tasked with investigating the police response in Uvalde described multiple, systemic failures at every level of the incident. An earlier report from Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program was similarly damning.
Miyares — whose office hosted the forum along with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services — noted Virginia police train for active-shooter situations.
“[T]heir training is to rush in, not to wait,” he said. “We are evaluating the [Uvalde] report, making sure that [a similar incident] hopefully never happens in Virginia — but that our officers know not to wait. You don’t stop. You rush in. You take out the shooter.”
Uvalde police reportedly had active shooter training prior to the May shooting.
Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, compared the Texas mass shooting with responses to incidents in the commonwealth.
“I can’t recall any instance in Virginia where we’ve had a mass shooting or active shooter event that has ever gone wrong to that degree,” Schrad told VPM News over the phone. “Even at Virginia Tech [in 2007], our law enforcement response was very well coordinated, and our people train up together all the time and people knew who was in charge. It seems like the wheels sort of fell off the bus down there.”
John Jones, spokesperson for the Virginia Sheriffs' Association, said sheriffs across the commonwealth are constantly evaluating their local response plans.
“Many have increased [the presence of school resource officers], and they have developed a relationship with their local schools,” he said. “The VSA is looking at including something [on the topic of school safety] at our annual conference coming up in September.”
Jones said the conference will address overall school safety — not just findings from the Uvalde reports.
Virginia recently approved a budget that includes $27.2 million per year for grants to localities to put more police officers in schools.
Research is mixed about how crucial SROs are in preventing gun violence in schools. A 2021 study by researchers at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University looked at data from U.S. schools between 2014 and 2018, and found that school resource officers “do effectively reduce some forms of violence in schools, but do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents.”
However, there are anecdotalstories of SROs successfully stopping gunmen.
As of July 1, Virginia schools are also required to update and digitize maps of their facilities, so officers responding to critical events can more easily navigate those buildings.