A Call to Arms

After Uvalde, Socorro ISD grapples with renewed calls for security and hardening at campuses countywide


Photo by Wu Xiaoling/Xinhua via Getty Images

Uvalde Police overlook the makeshift memorial for the victims of the May 24th Robb Elementary school shooting.

This story was written on June 2, 2022

After a shooting on May 24 that left 21 dead, including 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, 84 miles east of San Antonio, school districts across Texas are now answering calls for additional security and reinforcement at schools.

The Robb Elementary school shooting is now the 212th mass shooting incident, and the deadliest, of 2022 in the United States, with the shooting happening just six months before the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 28 people dead. Even though Uvalde is 500 miles southeast of El Paso, the aftershock still hit the community especially hard, reminding those of the Aug. 3, 2019 Walmart mass shooting that left 23 dead and the thought of their own children fearing for their lives. Socorro ISD’s superintendent Nathan Carman released a statement in response to the Uvalde shooting, emphasizing security at schools.

“On behalf of all Socorro ISD, I share our deepest condolences to the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District during this difficult time,” the statement read. “We hold you in our hearts and thoughts and send strength, hope and resilience to the entire Uvalde community.”

Carman’s statement continued on, talking about the Socorro ISD police force and security guards, boasting 59 and 66 officers, respectively, each assigned to a school, along with the over 1,500 security cameras across the district.

“Recently, we made the decision to restructure assignments to ensure a higher presence of an armed police officer at all schools,” the statement read. “Together with school administration and partner agencies, they proactively run drills and train throughout the school year to prepare for a variety of potential situations that could adversely impact school safety.”

As the country grapples with a mass shooting epidemic, many politicians are advocating to arm and train teachers in a defense against armed intruders. In an interview with Fox News, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton advocated to train and arm teachers across the state.

“We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things,” Paxton said. “We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”

James Nunn, the district’s coordinator of emergency management, discussed the potential of arming teachers in Socorro ISD, saying that gun carry, regardless if it’s open or concealed, is not allowed on any campus or SISD property.

“It is too political of a topic to be able to answer that, to be quite honest. I think the politics involved are going to kind of dictate where that goes in the future,” Nunn said.

Nunn also discussed the district’s policies and procedures towards mass casualty incidents such as the one in Uvalde, saying that the district is prepared to reunite families and to make sure that all students and staff are safe.

“What we have done is that we’ve actually redeployed our police department,” Nunn said. “So, all of our officers are now stationed at campuses throughout the district and we have our 66 security guards that are all on campuses right now as well.”

What we have done is that we’ve actually redeployed our police department. So, all of our officers are now stationed at campuses throughout the district and we have our 66 security guards that are all on campuses right now as well.

— James Nunn

Talking about the response time at Uvalde, which later was revealed to be around 79 minutes before Uvalde authorities entered Robb Elementary and killed the 18-year-old perpetrator Salvador Ramos, Nunn said that he hopes there would be no delay in a response from SISD Police.

“Even locally speaking, I think the Walmart situation had a response time of somewhere in the neighborhood of three minutes to get on site,” Nunn said. “I do not believe it would be 79 minutes again, but that’s to say on a case-by-case scenario in which guys with badges make decisions that I can’t.”

Nunn reiterated that SISD Police works with multiple authorities in the County of El Paso, saying that their relationship with multiple agencies is unique in the United States, where many American school districts work with a singular agency, working with federal authorities only when necessary.

“Not only do we have the El Paso Police Department, we also have the County Sheriff’s Department, we have Horizon City PD, we have Socorro PD, we have multiple law enforcement agencies that we do have a good working relationship with,” Nunn said.

Aztec Gold Online News attempted to reach out to the El Paso Police Department, but did not receive any response in time before publication.