‘Nothing we haven’t done to prepare’: SAPD Chief discusses mass shooting readiness

May 24 will mark two years since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary

SAN ANTONIO – Two years after the mass shooting in Uvalde left 19 children and two teachers dead, the concern it could happen here lingers in many parents’ minds.

However, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says his department and other agencies have taken precautions.

There is nothing that we haven’t done to prepare for an active threat situation,” he told the city council’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday.

“There’s nothing that we haven’t done in terms of training, in terms of collaboration, to better our response. We have the capability and the capacity to respond to any threat, anywhere in the city: schools, businesses, hospitals, wherever it may be.”

McManus gave the committee an overview of SAPD’s steps, including training, using the fusion center for threat assessments, hiring an analyst to research people making certain gun purchases or requests, and sharing intelligence with local schools.

His briefing was the result of a 2023 council consideration request (CCR) by Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), who is running for mayor next year. Pelaez asked the city to “adopt and meaningfully fund an evidence-based and expert-guided mass shooting prevention and response plan for local schools.”

And unlike in Uvalde, where confusion over who was in command at the scene contributed to police inaction, McManus said he and the local school districts had already discussed it. While he said he got some “pushback” from the districts, the chief said SAPD would ultimately wind up in charge “because SAPD has the resources and the capacity to handle one of those situations.”

McManus said he was not sure what change SAPD could make to its plans, based on the CCR. However, Pelaez’s request also called for addressing “root causes.”

Though the city and county have used COVID relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act to tackle mental health, the money has an expiration date.

“Right now, we’re kind of operating at the highest capacity that we’ve ever seen for school-based services and for free youth mental health services in our community. And so, it’s something we definitely want to keep an eye on as ARPA funding changes and goes away,” warned Jessie Higgins, the chief mental health officer for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

Metro Health also has a new “Violence Prevention Strategic Plan,” but it is still working out which organizations are tackling which strategies.

MANNY CCR by sheath on Scribd

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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