Criminal Justice

Do police officers view themselves differently as public perception of them changes?

Many Americans feel that the police stand between order and chaos. Yet the massive failure by law enforcement in Uvalde may change how the public views police and how police view themselves.

Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio
A memorial for the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting outside the school, on July 10, 2022.

Last week dozens of family members of victims of the Uvalde Texas school shooting showed up at the town’s first school board meeting since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in May.

The atmosphere became tense and emotional as families confronted board members, demanding assurances that students and staff would be safe in the coming school year.

The school board meeting followed the release of surveillance footage from the day of the shooting and an investigative report released by the Texas House of Representatives.

The investigation found that a total of 376 local, state, and federal officers converged on the scene. But due to “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” on the part of the police, more than an hour passed before anyone confronted the gunman.

Many Americans feel that the police stand between order and chaos. Yet the massive failure by law enforcement in Uvalde may change how the public views police and how police view themselves.

Host Michel Martin speaks with Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Brianna Scott. It was edited by Jeanette Woods. Our executive producer is Natalie Winston.

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