The school district police chief in Uvalde, Texas, has been in the spotlight for his recent highly controversial law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary School massacre, which took the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
However, an emerging report has shed more light on previous difficulties Pedro “Pete” Arredondo experienced while working at other law enforcement agencies.
Eight years prior to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, Arredondo was reportedly demoted from assistant chief to commander at the Webb County Sheriff’s Office in 2014, according to a report by San Antonio Express-News.
The reason? Arredondo was “difficult to get along with,” Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said.
“Basically, that’s what happened,” Cuellar said, according to the news outlet. “He was difficult to get along with — with his coworkers, especially upper staff. The basic thing I want to say is he just didn’t fit the qualifications or the work that I set out for him.”
According to Express-News, records show Arredondo had worked at the Uvalde Police Department from 1993-2009.
“Even in Uvalde PD, when he was over there, they disliked the (expletive) out of him,” Cuellar said. “They were hoping he would get a job in Laredo.”
That’s just what Arredondo did, according to the report. He left the Webb County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 for a job with the Laredo school district before becoming police chief at Uvalde Schools three years later.
However, records show Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District may not have adequately reviewed Arredondo’s employment history when he was hired as its police chief in 2020.
Should Arredondo be relieved of his position?
On Feb. 13, 2020, the school district posted a Facebook update that it was “proud to introduce our District Chief of Police, Pedro ‘Pete’ Arredondo,” and stated that Arredondo was able to provide “safety for all students, staff and our community.”
However, six days later, a human resources coordinator at Uvalde CISD emailed one of Arredondo’s previous employers, United Independent School District in Laredo, to seek a copy of his service record, according to emails obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.
This might have been the only place they tried to contact, as Cuellar stated that Uvalde CISD never contacted Cuellar or Webb County Sheriff’s Office about Arredondo’s performance.
If asked, Cuellar said that he would not have recommended Arredondo for the job.
“I don’t think I would, based on the performance,” Cuellar said. “If Uvalde had asked the proper questions, especially on the chief position, the high-ranking position, I would have said, ‘I don’t think (Arredondo was) capable of running even a small department.’ But they never asked.”
“They do investigations based on, ‘Hey, I worked here, I worked there.’ But then they never asked us. To do a good, clean background on somebody, they need to ask the sheriff. I would have been honest with them and said, ‘Hey, this is why he was demoted. Basically, he didn’t fit my criteria of being a chief.’”
Over two years later, on May 24, 2022, Arredondo would be the one who made the fateful decision not to immediately confront the gunman at Robb Elementary School.
With many outraged at his decisions regarding the situation, Texas House lawmakers have begun an investigation into the handling of the shooting, calling Arredondo’s decision to hang back a “terrible, tragic mistake,” the New York Post reported.
But Arredondo has defended his choices, claiming he falsely thought the gunman was a “barricaded subject” and that he was unaware that there were children in the room.
Arredondo has remained on unpaid leave since June. A termination hearing to decide his policing career has been delayed twice, Fox News reported.