HOUSTON — Since the Robb Elementary mass shooting, the state’s top regulator over Texas peace officers said he’s received almost daily emails from the public demanding his agency revoke the license of embattled Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo.
But under Texas law, it’s not that simple.
“We don’t have that authority. We can’t do that,” Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Executive Director Kim Vickers said. “Unless they’re charged with a criminal offense and get adjudicated, we’re absolutely out of that picture."
The Uvalde CISD superintendent has recommended firing Arredondo and the school board will consider taking that action at a special meeting on Saturday. Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, has faced blistering criticism since the massacre, most notably for not ordering officers to immediately breach the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman carried out the attack. If the board votes to terminate him, the agency is required to report to TCOLE whether he received an honorable, general or dishonorable discharge.
“Naturally, if an officer gets a dishonorable, future agencies looking to hire them start to hesitate because of that dishonorable, but it’s not a disqualifier,” Vickers said. “It would not disqualify them from future employment.”
Under Texas law, it takes two dishonorable discharges to automatically revoke a peace officer’s license, according to Vickers. KHOU 11 Investigates reviewed Arredondo’s employment history and found no indication of a previous dishonorable discharge, although police agencies are not required to publicly disclose that information.
The veteran lawman began his career at the Uvalde Police Department in 1993, where he worked for 15 years. Arredondo spent the next eight years at the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. In 2014, personnel records show he was demoted from deputy chief to the rank of commander but did not include details for that action. Between 2017 and 2020, Arredondo worked at the United ISD Police Department. The only disciplinary action in his personnel file was a 2018 letter from the police chief for not disciplining subordinates for using profanity and unprofessional comments. Arredondo has been Chief of Uvalde CISD police since March 2020.
Speaking generally, Vickers said it’s not uncommon for cops with troubled pasts to land a job elsewhere, particularly at small rural departments that cannot pay the same salaries as larger ones and are struggling to find officers.
"If a person has an active license and can be hired, they’ll find someplace in Texas that will hire them simply because they have to have somebody out there,” Vickers said. “And it’s frustrating, sometimes frustrating, the limitations that we have on actually trying to deal with some problem licensees, it just is.”
The special meeting of the Uvalde CISD school board is set to begin Saturday at 9 a.m. If terminated dishonorably, Arredondo would have 30 days to appeal that designation with the State Office of Administrative Hearings.