Former Lexington Police Chief gives perspective on Uvalde response video

Screenshot 2022-07-13 232530.png
Posted at 11:26 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 23:26:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A former Lexington Police chief is watching the investigation into the shooting in Uvalde, Texas closely.

Anthany Beatty, Sr. served with the Lexington Police Department for 34 years, including six years as chief. He has also worked as the Assistant Vice President of Public Safety at the University of Kentucky.

He said he responded to four active-shooter incidents in his time with the police department. When he sees other agencies deal with those incidents, he pays attention.

"The easy thing to do as a former police chief is to put yourself into critical analysis mode and try to problem-solve based on what you see. That's how we learn to make situations better," he said.

As the situation in Uvalde became clear, Beatty was watching.

"A lot of breakdowns, looks like, in this situation, in Uvalde, and we'll know more about it in days to come."

Surveillance video obtained by the Austin-American Statesman newspaper and KVUE shows the first officers respond to the shooting.

"They're going, as they should, to the shooting. That's exactly what we're trained to do. All three of them are headed to the shooting," Beatty said as he watched the video.

In the video, the officers are met with gunfire and retreat to the end of the hallway.

"The officers realize what they're up against. They're retreating to a safer position. If you notice here, only one of those had an automatic weapon. Everybody else had a handgun. Couple back here had automatic weapons, so firepower was not matched with what he had in there," Beatty said.

The video shows more officers arrive with more tactical gear, but beyond that, not much else is obviously happening for the next hour or so. There are still a lot of things we don't know about what could be happening off-camera. Beatty said, with so many agencies on scene, there could have been delays figuring out who was in charge and how to proceed, but sooner rather than later, he said the scene demanded action.

"When you're on a scene and you hear the shots being fired and you hear people crying out, then the human side of you says you have to do something," he said.

More than an hour after the incident began, a team rushed into the classroom and killed the gunman.

"You see how quickly they ended it once they made contact. That could have happened any time along the way," Beatty said.

There are a lot of lessons yet to be learned about why things happened the way they did.

"The question you ask about seeing all the officers in the hallway is disheartening because, by nature, police officers, firefighters, first responders are heroes. They want to go where that situation's happening to stop that from happening to someone, which didn't happen in this case for reasons we don't know yet. I'm sure we'll find out more with time," Beatty said.

As the investigation plays out, people within the first responder community will pay close attention to how officers responded to see what lessons they can take away.

"Command and control - that's going to be a big part of this one. Who's going to be in charge when, and who makes the decision when we move forward? If the officers don't just do it instinctively, when they first get to the scene, what happens next and who's going to do it?" Beatty said.

Beatty said active-shooter incidents in the late-'90s and early-2000s changed the way first responders treat these situations.

"Heath High School and then Columbine changed the way police responded to active shooters. Prior to that time, you responded and waited until you got equipment and the right people there and then you moved in. Post-Columbine, post-Heath, post-Virginia Tech, the method of training, the equipment purchased, the way we prepared, the joint-training the agencies did was to get into the facility, contact the perpetrator, and end the shooting as quickly as possible," he said.

He expects there will be changes after Uvalde as well.